Mr. Jean-Claude Le Vasseur
President of the National Council
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
5633 Sherbrooke Street East
Dear Mr. Le Vasseur:
It is with great pleasure that I write to thank the National Council
and, through you, all the staff and members of Development and Peace, for
the wonderfully successful campaign that you undertook in the collection
of signatures for the petition to cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest
and most highly-indebted countries.
When the past Plenary of the Bishops of Canada considered the 1999 program
of activities of the Social Affairs Commission, they asked us "to focus
on the international campaign for the forgiveness or reduction of the debt
of poor countries, and the means necessary to ensure that its benefits
flow through to the poor, particularly to support and participate in the
Canadian debt petition." I was pleased to be able to write to my episcopal
colleagues as early as June 15, 1998, requesting that they promote the
petition campaign of the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative in their
dioceses. Specifically at that time I encouraged meetings with the Diocesan
Councils of CCODP and full collaboration in all efforts to collect signatures.
The members of the Social Affairs Commission realize that the debt petition
in Canada has been a tremendously successful ecumenical initiative, resulting
in over 625,000 signatures collected. We are particularly gratified that
almost 500,000 signatures were collected by Catholic churches and schools.
This was, in large part, due to the tireless work of the extensive network
of CCODP committees and animators across Canada. Without this infrastructure,
and the commitment of so many participants, the debt issue could not have
gained such an important profile among the Canadian people, let alone with
the federal government.
In order to remain faithful to the call for debt cancellation that so many have supported, we will continue to encourage the leaders of our government to make this issue a priority. We are especially pleased that Bishop Pierre Morissette will represent both the CCCB and CCODP at meetings with the German Chancellor next month. What we have begun through the debt petition must be carried forward to ensure that real change, beneficial to the poor, is achieved!
Through this experience of the debt petition, the network of animators
and CCODP volunteer committees across the land has once again proved to
be a great gift to the Church in Canada. This organization remains a sign
of hope and encouragement to all those who struggle to make international
solidarity come alive in our hearts and among our wider communities. Thanks
to you, and congratulations to all, for this inestimably important Christian
XMost Reverend François Thibodeau,
Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs
cc M. Fabien Leboeuf, Executive Director, CCODP