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News From Latin America: Are Catholic Dollars Funding Abortion? An Investigation of a Canadian Catholic Charity

In May, representatives from the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development and Peace (CCODP), a charitable organization funded by the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, visited Mexico. Their purpose? To tour some of the Latin American organizations that CCODP assists with money it receives from the Canadian Catholic faithful.

The trouble is that all of these organizations support abortion.

In a May 28 letter, Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren, President of the Family, Childhood and Life Commission of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, requested that the Canadian bishops cease funding pro-abortion groups in Peru via the CCODP.

In a letter addressed to the Most Rev. V. James Weisgerber, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Eguren expressed fraternal concern about the Canadian Bishops’ “investigation,” announced some weeks ago.

“We have been following up the efforts of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops,” he said, “in order to clarify some troubling information concerning the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development and Peace’s funding activities of pro-abortion groups in Latin America.”

Carlos Polo, a member of the Family Commission of the Peruvian Bishops Conference and also the Latin American Director of the Population Research Institute, was one of the staff of professionals called upon by this Commission to research the topic. “As soon as the investigation of possible financing of pro-abortion non-governmental organizations with Canadian Catholic money was announced,” said Polo, “we began our own in-depth investigation. We did so because these issues are not only of concern to the Church in Canada but to the Universal Church.”

“The result of our investigation leaves no doubt that the generous donations of Canadian Catholics go to organizations that explicitly fight against what the Church teaches. In Peru, the organizations funded by CCODP oppose Church teaching on the life issues. Their leaders are often our adversaries in debates and public discussions on issues such as abortion, sterilization and contraception.”

Archbishop Eguren’s letter explicitly mentions three problematic organizations:

1. CNR — Coordinadora Nacional de Radio {National Community Radio Coordinating Agency)

2. GRESP — Groupe Réseau d’Economie Solidaire au Perou (The Peruvian Economic Solidarity Network, also known as Grupo Red de Economia Solidaria en el Peru)

3. FEMOCCPALC — Federacion de las Mujeres Organizadas en Centrales de Cocinas Populares {Federation of Women Organized in Popular Kitchens)

“Each group either explicitly endorses abortion, and for contraception, either by name or by its various euphemisms like ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ or some derivation thereof,” says the letter. “In that sense, we respectfully would like to formally request that the funding fur the pro-abortion groups in Peru by the Canadian Catholic Organization For Development and Peace be halted.”

The Peruvian Bishops conference concluded their letter by offering to help the Canadian Bishops find “worthy Catholic organizations involved in authentic development projects in Peru, as our nation could benefit greatly from the generosity of Canadian Catholics.”

While the CCCB’s own Committee of Inquiry has since predictably sided with CCODP, the initial response from some people claiming to represent the Canadian bishops was to call the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference to complain about it, These callers claimed that the letter was not sent through the proper channels, that the Peruvian Archbishop responsible for the Life issues could not so communicate with the President of the Canadian Bishops Conference.

In other words, instead of dealing with the substance of a legitimate com- plaint, some who claimed to represent the Canadian Bishops Conference instead engaged in legalistic quibbling and bureaucratic maneuvering.

Archbishop Eguren has rightly called certain abuses to the attention of the Canadian episcopate. It is their responsibility, not that of low level staffers who may only be covering up their past errors, to address these serious questions.

As Carlos Polo remarks, “The abortion and birth control industries are doing grievous damage to Christian values and the Christian family in Latin America. There isn’t a single Episcopal Conference in Latin America that is not suffering repeated attacks from secular forces for defending life and family. It would be a tragedy if Catholic organizations from Canada or anywhere else in the developed world joined in this attack on their own Church’s teachings and their fellow believers.

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