Bishops of Canada establish committee of inquiry following allegations against Development and Peace

Tuesday, April 07 2009

(CCCB-Ottawa)… The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has asked two Bishops to lead a committee of inquiry into allegations about five Mexican groups that received project funding from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

The two Canadian Bishops on the committee which will be going to Mexico later this month, 15-18 April, are Archbishop Martin W. Currie of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Bishop François Lapierre, P.M.É., of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. They will be assisted by Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H., General Secretary of the CCCB, and by Msgr. Carlos Quintana from the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he is Executive Director of its Secretariat for the Church in Latin America. The committee of inquiry will report to the CCCB on its findings.

Over the past few weeks there have been allegations that some groups in Mexico which received project funding from Development and Peace had shown support for abortion. In addition to confirming it does not support any groups in favour of abortion, Development and Peace also received written assurances from the five groups that they do not promote abortion.

Development and Peace had also announced there would be “an immediate inquiry with the five Mexican partners to get to the bottom of these allegations.”

The President of the CCCB, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, has now confirmed this inquiry will be undertaken by the Canadian Episcopal Conference. “There has been a lot of confusion sown in the minds of Canadian Catholics,” he said. “It is now important to provide answers that respond to the important questions that have been raised.”

Archbishop Weisgerber said the committee of inquiry would investigate the specific issues raised by the Mexican allegations and review first-hand how Development and Peace approaches its work with its partners in the Global South. He indicated the two Bishops on the CCCB inquiry would meet with Bishops from Mexico.

The committee of inquiry will later make its report and present its recommendations to the CCCB Permanent Council.

Development and Peace was founded by the Bishops of Canada in 1967 as their official agency for development work and emergency relief in the Global South. It is also the Canadian branch of Caritas Internationalis.