Letter to the President of Development and Peace Concerning the March for Women

Tuesday, February 13 2001

Ms. Susan McNamara Scott
National Council
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
5633 Sherbrooke Street East
Montreal, Quebec
H1N 1A3

Dear Ms. McNamara Scott:

As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I lend my full support to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) in its difficult but principled decision to dissociate itself from the World March of Women (WMW) International Organizing Committee.

The CCCB has been informed by CCODP Executive Director Fabien Leboeuf that on account of new developments it is necessary for Development and Peace to end all involvement in international follow-up activities to the World March of Women 2000 by the International Organizing Committee.

We understand that this decision was made in view of a number of recent developments by the WMW International Organizing Committee which involve calls for action protesting the announcement that US President George W. Bush intends to reinstate a previous ban on US foreign aid to overseas programs that promote abortion.

Obviously, Development and Peace does not support demands for abortion. This was already clear in the Joint Statement of Clarification on the World March of Women 2000, issued 16 May 2000, and is restated in the 7 February 2001 news release in which Development and Peace once again reaffirms its support for all efforts to end violence and bring about peace with justice but “always on the basis of [its] profound belief in the sacredness of all life.”

The integrity shown by Development and Peace in making its decision is coherent with the principles for Catholic support of the general objectives of the March which took place 8 March – 17 October 2000 to end poverty and violence against women. As identified in my message of 17 January 2000, these principles were:

  • the equality of men and women,
  • the preferential option for the poor,
  • solidarity with the oppressed,
  • respect for human life and dignity,
  • and … marriage as an equal partnership between husband and wife to which the
    transmission of life is entrusted.

Please convey to all the members of your national and diocesan councils, as well as your staff and supporters, the assurances of my prayers and my gratitude for this continuing witness to the dignity of all women. It is because of our faith that Catholics are continually called to oppose every form of poverty and violence.

Sincerely in Our Lord,

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

CC  Most Rev. Fred Henry, CCCB member on CCODP National Council
Most Rev. François Thibodeau, CJM, CCCB member on CCODP National Council