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CANADIAN CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE: Report to the Annual Plenary Assembly

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DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is the official Canadian Catholic development organization, founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1967. Currently, it has over 8,000 active members and a yearly budget of just under $27 million. Of this total, 68.9% is devoted to international development program, 13% to education in Canada, 2.7% for communications and research and, finally, 15.4% for administration and governance. The main sources of regular program funding are from the Lenten collection ($10 million) and from CIDA ($7.5 million). This revenue is complemented by income from urgent appeals, individual donors and bilateral agreements with CIDA.

Priorities

1. Executive Director Robert Letendre resigned last spring. Since then, a search committee has been actively trying to find a new Executive Director. In the meantime, Rev. Richard Renshaw, C.S.C., the Deputy Executive Director, has been filling in.

2. Another important area of activity has been preparation of the Action Plan for a membership-leadership formation program across Canada. The National Council has allocated $1.7 million to providing resources for a larger membership with a deeper formation in the vision of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE. These resources are being allocated over three years beginning this fall. They will include a formation manual for members with model workshops; training sessions for leaders; special events for youth, and the addition of a few personnel during this period to support the increased level of activity.

3. In June 2005, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE will hold an Orientation Assembly for delegates from among its members and partners. The Assembly will take place at NAV Canada and will provide an opportunity for delegates to help the organization determine the major focus and thrust of its work over the following five years (2006-2011). Over 150 persons are expected to attend.

4. For the last 15 years the Sisters of Charity of Montreal have generously provided space for the headquarters of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE at an extremely advantageous price. They have, however, now sold the building to the Foyer Rousselot which operates under a program of the Government of Quebec. In the meantime, it appears we are still welcome to remain in our present quarters. Nevertheless, anticipating the sale, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE had already been actively searching for alternative sites with the expectation of moving to new quarters in Montreal over the summer of 2005.

5. Traditionally, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has given priority to development work in Latin America, given that it is part of this largely Catholic hemisphere and there is a natural tendency to pay attention to our closest neighbours to the South. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America also encouraged DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE to pay special attention to the needs of our sisters and brothers to our immediate south.

However, it is also true that the poorest continent on the planet at this time is Africa. It is becoming increasingly apparent that an enormous effort is required to assure that Africa is not totally left out of global development efforts. In collaboration with the Catholic European development network (International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity -- CIDSE) DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has increased its budget for projects in various African countries.

This renewed commitment to eliminate poverty in Africa is also motivated by the significant AIDS crisis there and its impact on economic and social development. The largest number of African people living with AIDS are women and children. The policy on AIDS and development, presented to you at your last Plenary Assembly, is helping to shape the approach DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is taking in its work in Africa.

Water is a significant problem for Africa and the current campaign on water as a fundamental human right has important implications for the development of the African continent. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is increasingly linked with organizations throughout Africa (and elsewhere) that are working to ensure their people will have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.

6. In this as in other areas, our links with Catholic networks are a significant part of the work. At a seminar organized recently by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Jean-Marie Fardeau, President of CIDSE, said,

[We] have acquired the belief that we must, together, take action along with our African partners on the structural causes of situations of poverty on the continent. We know that these causes are complex and multiple and found inside and outside the countries…. We base this commitment to fairer trade, to debt cancellation of the so-called “poor” countries, and to financing for development on behalf of the poorest on the principles of the Church’s social teaching…. We declare that behind these subjects of an economic nature are in fact moral and spiritual questions that call on humanity: that of the universal purpose of goods and that of the preferential option for the poor.

7. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is thoroughly committed to supporting the role of civil society in dialogue with governments for achieving development goals. In this it is following the call of John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (39): “[That] interdependence … be transformed into solidarity, based upon the principle that the goods of creation are meant for all.”

8. Each year DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE sets aside 10% of the funds collected through Share Lent for emergency assistance. Urgent appeals raised another $2 million dollars this year. It should be noted, in the case of emergency assistance, that all of the funds collected are sent to the South except for about 8% for expenses involved in the collection and salary for a coordinator to explore, monitor and report on the projects chosen. Because of its ability to coordinate with national Caritas offices in 200 countries and also with 250 partner organizations in 40 countries, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is able to assure solid management of the funds contributed and in compliance with Canadian law.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has sent close to $250,000 to Haiti in response to a number of emergencies there during 2004. A large portion of that amount was directed to Caritas Haiti while smaller portions went to various religious congregations of Sisters working with the impoverished. These emergency funds are to be used for medical supplies, food, basic agricultural tools and seeds. A comprehensive reconstruction plan has been prepared for the disbursement of the remaining $600,000 collected for Haiti.

In Iraq, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE continues to coordinate with Caritas Iraq and with the Mennonites under difficult circumstances. Despite some setbacks, like the explosion of a bomb near its “well-baby” program in Bagdad that seriously injured the director, the program is working.

Following a recent visit to Afghanistan by Director of Development Programs Gilio Brunelli, we can report that, while there have been difficulties with the programs because of continuing violence, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is still present and the programs are functioning.

In addition, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has responded to dozens of emergencies in Ethiopia, Congo, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Argentina, to mention a few.


Challenges

At the moment DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE finds itself in a position of relative strength. It is expanding its base in Canada; it is extremely well-respected internationally; labour relations with the personnel are excellent (having just ratified a new collective agreement for the next three years) and it has been able to remain financially stable over the last several years.

Nevertheless, it is also true that it is at a turning point. The Lenten collection seems to have reached a plateau and CIDA is signalling future cuts. An expanded membership base is not a guarantee of increased funding. If DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE does not continue to support its membership, revenues could decrease. Yet the priority is always with partners in the South. The contributions of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE are mostly small and in collaboration with other international Catholic agencies. If Share Lent revenues fall, it would mean cutting off partners in the South, providing less support to those who need it most. At the same time, there is a significant increase in requests for emergency assistance.


What does DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE ask?

In order to carry out the mandate entrusted to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, it needs your public support to reach the faithful and the clergy of your dioceses. It also needs your support in trying to influence the policy-makers in government who recently seem less willing to open their doors.

What does DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE offer?

1. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE provides on-going formation for Catholics on living the social dimension of the Gospel. According to an Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, 36% of all Canadians recognize the name of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and are favourable to it and its values. This figure increases to 43% for Catholics. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has a strong and committed membership. Its values are welcomed by Canadians across the country.

2. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE also offers its expertise at any time you need to know about the current situation in any of the countries where it works. The team of project officers is recognized world-wide as experts in the development field.

3. Finally, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE offers its continuing and active collaboration with international Catholic networks such as CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis. In this respect, it is an integral part of the largest coordination of international solidarity outside the United Nations, as the compassionate arm of the Church embracing all of humanity.


For More information Contact:
Deacon William Kokesch
Director, Communications Service
Tel: (613) 936-5272
Fax: (613) 241-9048
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Last Updated on Tuesday, August 08 2006  
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On January 13th 2010, Most Reverend Vincent Nguyen became Canada’s first Catholic Bishop of East Asian descent. He is the great-grandson of a Vietnamese Martyr.