Letter to the Outgoing Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

Sunday, May 13 2001

Mr. Fabien Leboeuf
Executive Director
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
5633 Sherbrooke Street East
Montréal, Québec
H1N 1A3

Dear Fabien,

With Mr. Robert Letendre assuming his responsibilities today as the new Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, I wish to take this occasion on behalf of the Bishops of Canada to thank you for the capable leadership you have generously given to CCODP over the past five years, as well as for all your work over the previous 20 years before then as its French Sector education director and then as overseas programs director.

For the last five years especially, Development and Peace has made significant advances in renewing its internal structures and deepening its links with our sisters and brothers in the South through its Solidarity Committee. Moreover, even at a time when Canada was going through a difficult financial situation, CCODP brought new resources to bear in providing emergency assistance to Latin America, Africa and Asia, and so was able to tap the wonderful generosity of Canadians in even greater measure than ever before.

While in many ways these achievements were also the results of years of earlier preparation, from the point of view of the Bishops of Canada a number of ongoing developments are especially positive signs of your personal leadership over the past five years.

First of all, although CCODP already was a member of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, it also became a member of Caritas Internationalis. This new formal relationship provides an important means for more extensive and intensive collaboration with other Catholic international agencies, so that Canadian Catholics are now able to participate in development and aid programs in almost any nation on earth.

Secondly, your term as executive director was marked by wholehearted concern for promoting that full and essential equality of women and men that is characteristic of what the Holy Father has referred to as the “Gospel vision” concerning women. Although on several occasions there was controversy about how CCODP could best apply this Gospel vision, all Catholics can unite in applauding the resolve by Development and Peace to participate in the Church’s “renewed determination … to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women, no. 3).

Thirdly, in light of its recent restructuring and the new communications possibilities in the age of the Internet, Development and Peace has made impressive efforts to make itself more visible and to communicate even more effectively its message and mission. This renewed focus to proclaiming the implications of the Good News is one particularly important to us bishops whose responsibility it is to remind our diocesan Churches of the global mission that calls the baptized to go forth to all nations (cf. Matthew 28.19).

Finally, over the past months, you have personally devoted considerable time and energy to helping revitalize the ecumenical aspects of justice education and witness in Canada through the restructuring of the ecumenical social justice coalitions. As Pope John Paul II reminded us in his Apostolic Letter marking the beginning of the third millennium, immediately after his appeal for commitment to the ongoing ecumenical pilgrimage, he stated: “The century and the millennium now beginning will need to see, and hopefully with still greater clarity, to what length of dedication the Christian community can go in charity toward the poorest” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 49).

In thanking you, Fabien, for your dedication to charity and justice that has been so exemplified in your leadership over the past five years, I also assure your successor, Mr. Robert Letendre, and all CCODP staff and volunteers, that the Bishops of Canada remain committed to Development and Peace, its mission and its work.

May the Spirit continue to stir up new energies and enthusiasm for solidarity through and with Development and Peace, and may the Good Shepherd bless you and your family for all the energy and enthusiasm that you have contributed over this past quarter of a century to renewing the face of the earth.

Fraternally in Our Lord,

+ Gerald Wiesner, OMI
Bishop of Prince George
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops