13 December 2009

Rejoicing on Gaudete Sunday

My priest announced at mass today that the H1N1 restrictions put in place in November in the Calgary diocese have been lifted! Praise God. I was able to receive on the tongue for the first time in weeks.

It was wonderful to be able to receive Christ reverently again- especially on Gaudete Sunday.

I haven't heard from any of my friends at St. Anthony's if mass has been resumed there, but I assume it should be.

Thank you all for your prayers for Bishop Henry, and this diocese.

Rejoice, rejoice!

09 December 2009

Planned Parenthood, Brad Trost and the USSU

I could start this post by asking "which one of these is not alike"- the answer is pretty easy.

Brad Trost is the MP for my old riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt, and I think its a crime that this man is still just a backbencher. I've spoken with him a couple of times, and I think he truly has the good of his country and his constituency in his mind whenever he acts. One of the (many) things I like about him is that he is a member of the multi-party Parlimentary Pro-life Caucus. And this post is really about the petition he is sponsoring in the House of Commons. You can view it here.

The petition asks the Government of Canada to stop funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). You see, as of 2006, the taxpayers of Canada agreed to pay IPPF $18 MILLION over 4 years. I'm not going to go into the reasons why the government did this (because I don't know, and anything I say will just be ranting speculation) but they have.

I think Mr. Trost's petition is a great idea, and I encourage you all to print a copy off and get people signing it.

That brings me to the next part of the post- the USSU (or University of Saskatchewan Students Union). I paid money to this organization for 6 years while I was a student and I'm so happy they no longer get a dime of my money. The USSU is, like all Student's Unions I'm aware of, an extreme left wing institution that seems to exist to waste its members money. (I bet you have no idea how I really feel about it.)

Anyway, one of the members of the executive (who is elected by the student body) took offense to Mr. Trost's petition and is circulating a petition of his own. It asks the government to continue funding IPPF.

Now, I have no problem with an individual disagreeing with a politician's stance (I know its often me disagreeing) but I have a real problem with a institution that is funded by members taking such a stance- because the institution should be speaking for its members.

Having attended the U of S, and been involved with the U of S Students for Life, I know there are many USSU members who support Mr. Trost's petition, and not the USSU's. Consequently, I think it is wrong for the USSU to sponsor their petition. If individual members of the USSU or its executive want to have a counter petition- that's fine- that's what a democracy is about. But I think its wrong for them to use the USSU name to do it. Read their press release. It states that the USSU "condemns a petition being circulated by Brad Trost." The USSU should be doing no such thing.

So, for those of you who are U of S students (or alumni) please contact the USSU and tell them what you think of this- in polite, charitable terms.

One final comment is on Mr. Trost's response to the USSU's petition. You can read it here. But the title of the response says it all- "Freedom of Speech is an Absolute Right." Did I mention Mr. Trost was a stand up guy? Almost makes me wonder how he ended up in politics... and explains why he's still a backbencher.

But, if I still lived in that riding, he'd have my vote in the next election.

07 December 2009

Being an Ultra-Catholic

Just a quick post tonight-

There was an interesting article posted on Inside Catholic today. The article explores the idea that a Catholic who is faithful to Church teachings is considered a fanatic.

I don't consider myself to be a fanatic, but it's a term I have been called in the past- along with hardcore and fundamentalist. These are not used as terms of endearment. Language is so important- it shapes our understanding of the world.

Think of it- the pro-aborts use the term "pro-choice" and call us "anti-choice." We do the same and call them "pro-aborts." Language has power.

We need to do a better job of fighting on the language battlefield. I've talked about it before, but this article reminded me of it.

I guess I'll have to claim my title- I'm an ultra Catholic. How about you?

01 December 2009

Faith, the Flu and the Diocese of Calgary

H1N1 hysteria has hit Canada hard. In October, the new H1N1 vaccine was the leading story for weeks. H1N1 is often still the leading news story. People are panicking trying to get their vaccine.

I've alternated positions between laughing at the gullibility of people and shaking my head at the nonsense. That was until the hysteria affected me personally. (No, I don't have the flu, nor does anyone I know). But my diocese ( the diocese of Calgary) has put into place H1N1 "precautions."

These precautions include:
  1. No reception of the Blood of Christ
  2. No Holy Water in the fonts
  3. No shaking hands during the sign of peace
  4. No reception on the tongue
That last one is the most difficult for me to swallow. About a year ago (after feeling called to it for about 6 months, but being afraid to) I decided to start receiving the Body of Christ on the tongue.

I decided to do that for one reason, and one reason only. I am receiving MY SAVIOR. Literally, the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. I began to notice that after receiving in the hand, particles of Christ were still on my hand. I tried to lick them up, but that is not dignified for me, nor do I believe it demonstrates the reverence I should have for Jesus.

So, because I felt it was necessary to protect Christ, I began to receive on the tongue. I know people who say that receiving on the tongue gave them a stronger and deeper appreciation of their faith, but I can claim no such result. But I do feel it is more reverent, and it does humble me. The bottom line is, I do not like receiving in the hand. I'm paranoid that I'm dropping pieces of Christ to the floor to be trampled on.

And now, my Bishop is requiring that I do this. These rules have been in place for the past three weeks, and every mass I want to cry because of the indignity I am performing. (I know- I could refrain from taking the Eucharist, but I need the grace it gives. I need that close communion with Christ to help withstand sin. Maybe that's a position I need to reevaluate).

But I shouldn't have to. According to Redemptionis Sacramentum 92, the people have the right to choose how to receive. In fact, reception on the tongue is supposed to be the norm- reception in the hand is only an indulgence. In a letter dated July 24, 2009 the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) confirmed that it is not licit to deny the faithful reception on the tongue.

The edict from Bishop Henry just got worse today. He has gone one step further. Calgary has an FSSP parish- St. Anthony's. Mass there is in the Extraordinary Form, and they have been quietly ignoring the H1N1 precautions. Well, as of last Friday, Bishop Henry has shut down the parish. When someone pointed out the CDW's letter, he stated "I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine. " (See the details here)

Ummm no. How can any bishop take that position? Excuse me Your Excellency, but I'm pretty sure it is the CDW's call. The Catholic Church is a hierarchy. Hierarchy's work from the top down. That means that the parish has to listen to the priest, and the priest has to listen to the bishop, and the bishop has to listen to the pope.

The reason I have been receiving in the hand for the last 3 weeks (despite the fact that it causes me great distress) is because I believe in the hierarchy, and I think the hierarchy is important. If my bishop says this is the way things are, I will do that. Unless and until the bishop is no longer obeying the hierarchy. At that point, who am I supposed to follow?

Oh, and didn't Pope Benedict issue something called Summorum Pontificum? The document that states that the laity has a right to the Extraordinary form? Yeah, he did. So not only is Bishop Henry defying the CDW (and the Magisterium), he is now directly defying THE POPE. The Vicar of Christ on Earth. The man the Holy Spirit chose to lead the Church.

Never fear, I will be writing to Bishop Henry. I request you do so as well. But be courteous. If all the letters Bishop Henry gets are rude, he will have no reason to take our concerns seriously. His e-mail address is bishopfh@rcdiocese-calgary.ab.ca. If you live in the diocese, please tell him which parish you attend, and if you live out of the diocese, please state which diocese you do live in.

And please pray for this diocese, Bishop Henry, St. Anthony's parish and all the people affected by this directive.

Until very recently, I have been a big fan of Bishop Henry. I like his no holds barred style when he talks about abortion and homosexuality, and the right of a church to get involved in public life. But this decision, and a few other ones have left me wondering what has happened to him.

Oh, and on a side note, please also pray for my old diocese- the Diocese of Saskatoon which has also suspended reception on the tongue. I know it is deeply troubling to people there. The diocese is currently without a bishop, so people really don't know who to speak to about it.

I'm back

Wow. Apparently I haven't posted since August. And its now December.

I really don't know where the time has gone. The Student-at-Law gig (and real life in general) have been keeping me busy.

There have been quite a few times when I've read something I wanted to post on, only to get busy and not end up posting.

My apologies. But I'm making a commitment now to all my readers (if I still have any-those of you who are still here, thanks for your faith that I would come back) that regular posts will resume now.

Know that you are all in my prayers, and I ask for your prayers as well.

God Bless!

11 August 2009

File this one as a head scratcher

I'm thinking there has to be more to this story.

Apparently there is a new Bill being passed by the Legislature in Quebec that requires abortionaries to adhere to minimum hygiene and safety standards- essentially they have to perform abortions in sterile environments.

As a result at least one abortionary is set to close because they can't meet the standards.

So my first thought

1) Yay an abortionary has to close!

2) What?!?! They weren't operating in sterile environments before and the government had to pass a law to enforce it?

On second thought- maybe there isn't more to the story. After all abortionists don't care about the baby they are killing- why should they care about the mother?

05 August 2009

Ethics and Faith


I knew that the practice of law would at times put my duty as a lawyer and my duty as a Catholic at odds. I ran into one of those situations today.

I had a client come in to get some estate planning done- Will, Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive. After speaking with the client, I have no concern about capacity. The client is clearly able to make the decisions necessary for estate planning. However, this client also has some severe disabilities- none that are mentally impairing, just some severe physical disabilities. The disabilities are part of the reason the client wants to get the estate planning done. (I should make clear- this is the first estate planning I've worked on, and I was sitting in with my principal observing- not actually doing the questioning)

So far, so good- I have no issues with any of that.

What does bother me is my firm's personal directive. The wording of it specifically. The directive says essentially that no extraordinary methods should be used to save the client and if the client is in an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state, their lives should not be prolonged.

My problem with this wording is that a) it is too open to interpretation- in this world, extraordinary means can mean food and water and irreversible comas and persistent vegetative states are not something that medical professionals agree on and b) I think such wording violates the culture of life ethic.

My other problem is that this wording is presented by the lawyers in my firm as being "normal" and "what everyone uses." When interviewing clients, my principal asks "do you want the plug to be pulled or not?" If the client says pull it (which all that I've seen so far do) my principal says that this is the wording you should use. To me, this is not doing the job we as lawyers should be doing for our clients. Everyone is not an expert in end of life issues (I'm certainly not, but I like to think I'm more aware than a lot of other people) and I'm sure this isn't something my principal has thought much about, but I don't think this explanation or the wording is good for our clients. I don't think they understand the ramifications of what they are signing and I don't know that it is consistent with their actual wishes.

When people are choosing the terms for their wills, we are very careful to make sure we ask lots of questions so we get their intentions captured properly in the will. To me this one size fits all personal directive is us as lawyers failing to take proper instructions from our client.

Don't get me wrong- I know there are a lot of people out there who may want the plug pulled. I just want to make sure that they know what they are saying when they say that. I want to give them options; I don't want them to be forced into the cookie-cutter precedent some lawyer got at a Law Society conference, and I feel that is what is happening here.

Back to my client today- I don't know that the client truly understood what the client was signing. (For that matter, I don't know that my principal knows the ramifications either) And I am concerned, especially because of the client's disability, that the medical profession will not stop to seriously consider the client's wishes if the time comes.

As a Catholic, it hurt me to watch someone sign a document that condemns them to the culture of death. Yet, as a lawyer it’s my job to make sure the client’s wishes are followed. I guess my real concern is- when the day comes (and it is coming soon) that I take instructions and draft the personal directive myself, what do I do if the client wants to make a decision that I disagree with? As a lawyer, I know that I have to abide by the client's wishes, but as a Catholic, can I do that? Am I not then complicit in an act that violates my faith? And if I do so with full knowledge, does that not make it a mortal sin? And if I know that I will do it again if another client wants it, does that mean I can't repent of the sin at confession? Where does that leave my soul?

My clients may not know any better- they after all live in a society consumed by the culture of death. God is merciful, and I know He will have mercy on them. But what about me? I do know better. After all, "to those to whom much is given, much will be expected."

I'm only 1 month into a career that should last over 40 years. How do I protect my client’s dignity, and how do I promote the culture of life when my profession has such a large role in the culture of death?

My intention is to create some other precedents in time that are more life affirming, but what do I do with people who are adamant that they want the plug pulled or to be deprived of nutrition and hydration?

22 July 2009

The Healthcare Debate

I've been following with great interest the current debate over healthcare in the United States. I don't claim to have read the bill (1000+ pages of legislation is daunting to say the least), but I'm going to comment on the situation anyway.

What I've read (from mainstream and fringe media, right, left and center) suggests that the system Obama is proposing is very, very similar to the current Canadian model. And that scares me. Americans deserve much, much better. I'm not even going to comment on the concerns that the proposed plan will fund abortions (as already happens in Canada) or that it will lead to rationing of healthcare (it does in Canada) or that it will lead to a utilitarian system where the disabled and elderly are not cared for because its too expensive (also a problem in Canada) because I think you all know where I stand on that issue.

Instead, I want to comment on this notion that free government healthcare is a good idea. I live the Canadian experience, and all I can say is thank God I'm healthy. The whole time I was going to university, I didn't have a doctor- I wasn't sick and didn't think I needed one. Now that I've settled into my career, I thought I'd find a doctor (my family and friends think that yearly physicals are a good idea, and apparently going 10 years without one is too long). So, I called every clinic in the area I'm now living in, and not one of them is accepting new patients.

Huh. I thought that under our universal medical care system, I could recieve medical care anywhere in the country. Apparently not. When I asked the clinics what I should do, they suggested I go to the ER for any problems.

Yeah, right.

I'm going to go to the ER for a physical.

And even if I did, and they would do it (which I'm sure they won't) what a waste of a) taxpayer money and b) ER resources. If the ER is busy dealing with people who should be seeing their GP, how can they help those who really need ER care? Our ER has essentially turned into a glorified walk- in clinic. Its a little ridiculous.

I also came across this story the other day. Apparently, this hospital has closed its maternity ward because there are no doctors to deliver babies in the city. Instead, expectant mothers are being told to go an hour away to deliver. This was supposed to be a temporary measure, but its been 6 months! Two women have already delivered en route to the hospital in the ambulance.

I don't know what the best solution is- the city can't seem to attract any doctors, but the patients are suffering. What happens when a women has a difficult or dangerous pregnancy/labour? Does a mother or child have to die before this situation is remedied? (I don't even want to think about the liability issues in this situation).

Anyway, my point is that the Canadian system is far from perfect. It is not something that other countries should try to emulate. Improve upon? Learn from? Sure- that's great, but this is not the route Americans want to take. Trust me.

The only "good" thing about Canadian healthcare is that its equal- rich or poor if you want treatment under the universal healthcare system, you will have wait equal lengths of time.

All I can say is, thank God for my health.

Pray for our neighbors to the south.

15 July 2009

The Difference with Differences

A few things have happened in the past few days that have reminded me how important it is that we all be witnesses in our everyday lives to our Catholic and Christian faith.

I was speaking to a person I consider to be a very strong, moral and ethical person today, but then he said something that caught me off guard. We were speaking about another person I'd just met, and he was giving me some background. He told me the person's daughter had Down's Syndrome and then said "and that's a bigger burden than anyone should have to carry. Poor guy."

I was so shocked, I didn't say anything. And by the time I recovered, we'd moved on in the conversation and I didn't feel up to bringing it back up. So now I'm blogging about it. Don't get me wrong- I know that the attitude society promotes is that people with disabilities are somehow less human or less worthy of life, but I'm shocked when people I respect say things like that.

Why is it "poor guy"? Why is it such a "burden"? Why is it a burden no one should have to carry? Doesn't he see the implication in his speech- that the daughter would be better off dead? I don't understand. I know that raising a child with a disability is not easy, but I don't think raising any child is easy. A disability might create more challenges, but it also has the potential for great blessings. I don't have a lot of experience with people who have Down's, but what I've seen is people who are more human, loving and caring than the vast majority of this world (myself included.) What do you say when people say things like that?

This brings me to the other recent experience- the area I am living and working in has a lot of immigrants, and these immigrants are visible minorities. Before I moved here I was aware that there are tensions as a result, but I can't help but wonder in the last few days if those tensions are excacberated by people's conduct.

I've noticed that when these immigrants (many of whom are now Canadian citizens, or at least permanent residents) deal with others, they are looked down upon as being unintelligent. I don't think they are- they don't always speak English well, but that doesn't make them stupid. And yet, people assume that because they don't speak English, they must be idiots, and they speak down to them, role their eyes or avoid dealing with them all together. And I see the frustration on the faces of these immigrants who are just trying to get though each day.

I can't imagine how scary and difficult it would be to leave my country and move to another one where, not only do I not speak the language, but I look like an outsider. I got a small taste of that in Italy this summer-I don't speak Italian and I'm so pale that I just screamed tourist and it was hard- and most people there wanted to help me.

Here, people seem to go out of their way to make things difficult for these immigrants. For example, I've seen people be denied appointments, or forced to come back 3 or 4 times because they didn't understand, yet if they spoke better English, someone would take the time to explain it for them.

Maybe the worst was a comment I heard today- "yeah he's Chinese, but his English is pretty good, so there's no reason to not help him."

To me this is the same attitude as the attitude towards people with disabilities. We are all human- equal in dignity and deserving of respect by virture of that inate dignity. Yes, some people are more work to deal with than others, but if we are all children of God, we should do the extra work, and be happy to do it.

If we call ourselves Christians, should our lives not be a witness of His gospel? We need to be Christ to each other, and we need to stop seeing everyone as other and start seeing everyone as our neighbor.

And maybe if we can do that, we can reverse this culture of death we seem to be spiraling further and further into.

09 July 2009


You may have noticed a few changes around the blog- especially the title. I've changed it from Catholic Law Student to Catholic Student-at-Law, not because I'm trying to be funny but to represent my new status.

I officially finished law school back in April, and I've now embarked on the final year before I become a lawyer- I am a student-at-law which essentially means I'm an apprentice. God willing, in a year I can call myself a Catholic Lawyer.

Anyway, the purpose of this blog remains the same, and I'm hoping to get back to more regular blogging, especially since I've settled down into one place with a solid internet connection. The content should be the same (although there will no longer be posts starting with "I heard in class today")

I'm glad you've stuck around to read the blog this long, and I hope you continue to read.

God Bless!


When I blog (or actually, when I do anything in life) I like to do it with the facts in hand so they can all be analyzed and examined. I don't want to spread false rumors or engender animosity, and that's what (I have learned) speaking without all the facts can do.

That said, I have been hearing something about the new diocese I have moved to (for work) that troubles me greatly. However, I have no facts, no evidence and no proof. I am attempting to get those things, but until I do, I'm not going to speak about it.

The rumors trouble me greatly though and are weighing heavily on my conscience and my soul. I'm not even sure if I should post this much, but I do want to ask everyone for prayers for the diocese, especially the leadership of the diocese.

I am praying there is no truth to these rumors and if there isn't, I will never mention them again. Until that point, your prayers are appreciated.

Actually, this has hit home to me that I hardly ever pray for those in authority in the Church, and I really should- we all should.

In advance, I thank you for your prayers

01 July 2009

CCCB report on Lifesite’s allegations against Development and Peace re: abortion

As I have hoped (and urged the bishops to do) the CCCB's report into Lifesite's allegations has been made public. You can read the report here . The report concludes:

"We believe the allegations by Lifesite News – that financial assistance by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) aided projects related to the promotion of abortion – are not founded on the facts."

Before I comment, I want to note a few things about the report especially as they are things I was concerned about in earlier posts. First, the investigation was lead by Archbishop Martin William Currie of St. John's and Bishop of Grand Falls and Bishop Francois Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe. The investigatory commission also included Msgr. Carlos Quintana, C.S.S., Executive Director of the National Collection for the Church in Latin America of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H., General Secretary of the CCCB and Development and Peace officials; Michael Casey, Executive Director, Paul Cliche, Deputy Director of the International Programs Department, and André Charlebois, Program Officer for Latin America. The report states that the D&P officials were involved to see to "travel arrangements and other organizing." I 'm noting this because my concern has been from the beginning that D&P officials might try to hinder and bias the investigation.

Another note- The CCCB commission did speak with the Mexican Catholic Bishops during the investigation. The report does not comment on what the bishops said, except to state that: "We regret that the Mexican organizations have so little or no relation with the Episcopal Conference of their country." I'm noting this because I find it interesting that the Mexican Bishops aren't involved with these groups, and I wonder why.



This could get to be a very long post, so I am going to quickly summarize my thoughts on the investigation here. The detailed analysis follows

  1. The investigation was a wasted effort because it did not investigate the allegations made by Lifesite, it investigated the allegations D&P claimed Lifesite made, which are two very different things.

  2. The investigation must have found something wrong with D&P because they did have some strong words for D&P (couched in the type of language Bishop's use) though they do not elaborate on what that may be.

  3. The Bishop's do not seem to have had all the information before they did this investigation because they claim Lifesite has avoided contacting the CCCB and establishing dialogue on this issue, yet Lifesite has been in contact with the bishop's from the start

  4. The only comment on any of the evidence gathered by Lifesite was directed to the piece of evidence showing that the 5 groups signed a report that advocated several positions in contradiction with the teachings of the Church (including abortion and contraception). The bishops merely stated that signing this was "imprudent" and concluded it was ok because they were merely showing solidarity with the other groups working for human rights.

My position on funding D&P has not been changed by this report. The report does not address Lifesite's allegations, nor does it address the very clear and very damning evidence Lifesite has produced which leads me to believe that D&P will continue to fund organizations that I believe support abortion. As I have stated from the beginning, if an organization I fund gives money to an organization that supports abortion- even if my money isn't directly used to support abortion- I am morally complicit in those abortions and therefore in a state of mortal sin if I know or suspect that is what the groups are doing. With all due respect to D&P and the CCCB, my soul is too important to leave to the hope that D&P is not involved, especially when I have seen clear evidence otherwise.

Detailed Analysis

Point 1

As I quoted above, the CCCB found that D&P did not aid projects related to the promotion of abortion. That is all well and good, and I'm glad that D&P isn't doing that, because that would be an even greater scandal than the one facing them. The allegations against D&P are that they are funding groups who support abortion- i.e. money D&P gives goes to worthy endeavors, but the groups are also involved in abortion related advocacy.

This is a very big difference. Essentially the allegation is that D&P is giving money to groups who use that money to build homes or dig wells for fresh water, but those same groups also support abortion. This is the problem- even if the D&P money isn't being used for abortions, the money D&P gives frees up other money to be used for abortion. Hence, those donating to D&P are still complicit in the abortions.

And, just to ensure that no one thinks I'm splitting hairs now because the CCCB investigation didn't come to the same conclusion as me, I point you to the very first post I wrote on this issue back in March where I made this exact distinction. Lifesite has been very clear from the start as to what the allegations are- it is D&P who has worked to distort those allegations. It appears to me that D&P succeeded in framing this debate the way they wanted it to go. Of course the CCCB finds no truth to these allegations- they are not the allegations Lifesite was making!

Point 2

While the investigation doesn't find any basis for the allegations against D&P they did express the hope that:

"The present circumstances encourage Development and Peace to be more vigilant in analysing requests for financial assistance and more demanding about receiving information from possible partners. While recognizing the good relations and communications that already exist between CCODP and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, we would encourage Development and Peace to ensure more thorough consultations with the Bishops of Canada, particularly the two Bishops who are appointed as members of the Development and Peace National Council, especially when there are questions involving moral issues such as abortion and contraception." (Italics mine)

My question is, why did the bishops feel the need to make this statement? I can only see two possible reasons 1) they found something wrong, but don't feel they have enough evidence to make it public or 2) they are attempting to make those who find the evidence compelling feel better. I can't see the bishops just providing a sop for our consciences, so I think they must have found something. I base this on the fact that the report doesn't comment on what the Mexican Bishops have to say and that it doesn't deal with all the evidence against D&P. I hope that I'm wrong on this- not because I don't think there is wrongdoing, but because the bishops are then playing a very dangerous game with the souls entrusted to their care.

Point 3

The report also rebukes Lifesite for not opening dialogue with the CCCB on this issue. I'm wondering why the bishops say this- I think it has been very clear from the coverage Lifesite has given that they have been in dialogue- if they hadn't why would 4 bishops have spoken up and withheld funding from D&P? They have to have based a decision like that on more than one report from Lifesite. In their analysis of the report, Lifesite explains how it has tried to dialogue with the bishops on this, but that the CCCB was not willing to meet with them. To me, that makes the bishop's rebuke a little hypocritical and jeopardizes any trust I might have put into the report.

Point 4

Finally, the report deals with only one of the many pieces of evidence amassed against D&P's 5 Mexican partners. The piece it does deal with- the report signed by the 5 partners along with 45 other Mexican human rights organizations that expresses support for several things that violate Church teachings (including abortion and contraception)- DOES express support for abortion by those partners; the very thing Lifesite alleged the partners were doing. The bishop's response to this is that it was merely an "imprudent" decision, and, as if it makes it all better, they note that several religious groups, including Dominicans and Jesuits signed the same document because it merely expresses a desire for greater human rights in Mexico.


Two quick points here- first, if Dominicans and Jesuits are signing documents that violate Church teachings, the heads of their orders should be contacted, as should the Vatican, and an immediate investigation should begin. The CCCB should not be using that as an excuse for D&P's partners. That's like a kid saying it was ok to shoplift a candy bar because his two good friends did it to. What parent would accept that explanation? So why is the CCCB? Second, the bishops say it's ok because the 5 partners were just expressing their solidarity with other human rights groups. Uh huh. Isn't that the problem? If they are expressing solidarity with other groups, and that solidarity means they violate Church teachings, then aren't they a group no Catholic should support? Isn't that a little like a kid lying to his parents about going to a party he's not supposed to attend and then when he's caught just saying "oh well Jim and Joey and Mark and Sam were saying the same thing and I wanted to support them." Again, what parent would accept that? Mine certainly wouldn't.

Lifesite, in their response, claims that this piece of evidence (the report signed) was the "least significant." I don't know, it seems pretty significant to me. So if the CCCB just waves this piece away, why didn't they deal with all the other pieces. If this report is supposed to put to rest this controversy, then why didn't the CCCB deal with all the evidence? Why go all the way to Mexico if you aren't going to deal with all the evidence and allegations? What's the purpose of the investigation then.


I'm sorry- I still stand by my original conclusion. This report raises, in my mind, more questions than it answers. To be honest, I'd really like to know why the Mexican bishops have no involvement with these groups. If they are such worthy organizations, why don't the Mexican bishops deal with them? We can speculate until the cows come home, and it may be perfectly innocent but I want to know why, and I think the CCCB should have included in the report the testimony from the Mexican bishops they met with.

Since the CCCB didn't deal with all the evidence, how can I trust their conclusion? Even more importantly, they didn't address the right allegations, so how can I trust that D&P isn't complicit in abortion- they never investigated that! Not only that, this report only deals with the first 5 partners Lifesite made allegations against. As far as I know, the CCCB has no intention of investigating the other 14 partners Lifesite made allegations against. How can I possibly trust D&P with my funds when questions like this remain?

The bishops, at the end of the report state:

"The dignity of each human life is to be protected and promoted from conception to natural death. Thus there is an urgency to all that threatens the dignity and sacredness of human life"

If the dignity of each life is to be promoted (and it should be I think) why aren't the bishops being more careful to ensure that faithful Catholic's donations are not being used by groups who support abortion. Why are they resting on their laurels and producing short useless reports when there is the potential that human lives are being ended? How does that promote the sanctity of life? It doesn't and until they deal with this D&P will get no funding from me, and I will do everything I can to ensure that my family and friends don't donate to D&P either. Donations will still be made, but they will be made to organizations that I trust and know to follow Church teachings. Unfortunately, D&P no longer falls into that category.

24 June 2009

Update of Legal Analysis on D&P Situation

I was asked in the comments section of this post to update the legal analysis I'd done on March 20 of the D&P situation in light of the new evidence that has come to light recently. (Read the original post here.)

Essentially, in the original post I used my legal training to outline the facts of the case and analyze it. The conclusion I came to in that post was "Lifesite has met the burden of proof to show D&P partners with groups who support abortion." I said at the end of the post that I would be willing to revisit that conclusion if other evidence came to light, and that is what I intend to do in this post.

I am assuming that the evidence the commenter wanted me to deal with is Archbishop Weisberger's announcement that the CCCB finds no wrong doing by D&P. (If there is other evidence I'm supposed to be considering, please point me in the right direction and I will analyze it as well.)


As I stated on March 20, in a civil case (which is what this would be) the burden on proof is on the persona making the allegations to prove on the balance of probabilities that their allegations are true. The civil standard of balance of probabilities means 51%; it does not mean beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant side (D&P because the allegations were made against them) has to show an equally plausible alternative argument to win the case.

My point on March 20 was that D&P had not done that- they had not refuted the allegations, just denied them, so Lifesite won the civil case.

The report of the investigation carried out by the CCCB has not become public yet, and as far as I can determine, the CCCB does not plan to release it to the public. Without reading that report, and analyzing its evidentiary value, D&P has not refuted the allegations. Bishop Weisberger has simply made a statement that the investigation finds no wrongdoing by D&P. He is entitled to make that statement, but no court in the common law system would accept that pronouncement as evidence. In fact, an unsubstantiated statement would never be admitted to be heard in a court case at all. The court would need to see the report, and would not likely even allow the Archbishop to testify; they would tell him to submit the report. Without the report, his statement is simply a hollow denial.

The purpose of my March 20 post was to analyze the situation from a legal perspective- the law does not take into account the Church hierarchy and authority- it simply looks at the facts and evidence and analyzes them. Without the key piece of evidence (the report) the situation has not changed since my post of March 20, so neither can my conclusion.

In fact, more allegations have been made since that post- a total of 19 D&P partners are alleged to support abortion. The Peruvian Bishops Commission on the Family has released a public letter (here) asking the CCCB to withdraw support to 3 groups in Peru because of their support of abortion. This story has been picked up by Vatican Radio (here). These developments, along with others I've posted about in the last months, give more credence to Lifesite than they do to D&P.


Remember that this is an exercise in analyzing this situation under Canadian law as if it were an actual civil case, I am compelled to stand by my conclusion of March 20. D&P has not produced any evidence that refutes the allegations.

Lifesite's allegations were all cited- you could examine the evidence for yourself. D&P and the CCCB have not produced any evidence against which to test their assertions. That's why Lifesite wins this if it's treated as a civil case.

I am more than willing to revisit this again if more evidence comes to light, but it needs to be evidence- like the CCCB's report. Until I find that evidence, this is the conclusion I have to draw. If you think there is evidence that I've forgotten about, please let me know- either in the comments section or by e-mail to catholiclawstudent@gmail.com.

23 June 2009

Development and Peace

I said I would only post on D&P if new, major developments occurred, and there are two I want to bring your attention to.

First, the Family Issues arm of Catholic Council of Bishops in Peru has written a letter to the CCCB asking them why they (through D&P) are financially supporting the very groups that the Peruvian bishops are fighting against because of their support of abortion. You can read the letter here. The letter is very direct, and formally asks the CCCB to halt funding to the organizations. The letter states:
"It is very disturbing to have groups which work against the Bishops of Peru by attempting to undermine legal protection for the right to life of unborn children, be funded by our brother bishops in Canada"
I don't know how more direct the bishops can be. This is no longer a case of "some internet groups rabblerousing" as some bishops in Canada have suggested. There is a direct call by another council of Bishops asking the CCCB to halt the funding. I hope that this letter is the wake up call the CCCB needs.

Unfortunately, I don't think it is. The second development I want to share with you is the news that the investigation conducted by the CCCB into 5 of D&P's Mexican partners found absolutely no evidence of abortion or abortion related activity. Archbishop Weisberger of Winnipeg (the head of the CCCB) in an interview with Salt and Light Television stated:
"But I can assure you that in the report, the bishops found very clearly that there was no evidence that Development and Peace in any way funded abortion-related activities."
He also (in my opinion) questioned the credibility of LSN for making the allegations. He essentially said that we now have a choice- to believe LSN or to believe the Bishops:
"It seems that there is a tendency on the part of some people to trust allegations on websites more than they trust the bishops. That’s the role of the bishops in the Church and when the bishops investigate something, when the bishops look at things and when the bishops teach, according to our theology, we should have confidence in that."
You can read the transcript of the interview here.

I don't like Archbishop Weisberger telling me that I have to accept what the CCCB says because they are the ones with the authority on moral teachings. As anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile knows, I am a very ardent supporter of the Church and her Bishops and I believe strongly in the authority of the Magisterium. However, I think Archbishop Weisberger is being disingenuous by claiming that now that the investigation is done, we just have to trust what the Bishops have said.

We have yet to actually read the report done by the CCCB. I want to know exactly what was said by whom, and who the CCCB talked to, and how involved D&P was in the investigation itself. I believe the bishops can run a thorough investigation, but this was not one- the set up of the committee going was heavily loaded with D&P members- that's not unbiased. In law, when picking a jury, potential jurors are screened for biases they can't put aside- that didn't happen here, and it should have.

Also, the Bishops have yet to address the other 14 allegations made, and based on the transcript of the Salt and Light interview, I don't think they are going to. Maybe I am splitting hairs, but if the investigation into all the allegations is not done, how can the bishops speak authoritatively on it?

There is something rotten in the D&P organization. The proof Lifesite has offered is, in my opinion, very strong, and the CCCB has ignored it.

Lifesite has summarized the allegations and following events into a short 5 minute video- I suggest you all watch it, and ask you to pass it along to your friends.

And please, write your bishops again and ask them to do three things- 1) release the D&P report 2) investigate the other allegations 3) respond publicly to the Peruvian Bishops letter. Of course, be respectful, but make sure they understand that you are concerned about being complicit in the deaths of unborn children.

05 June 2009

Mortal Sin

This post isn't my usual fare for this blog, but I got so excited when I read this, I had to share it.

I've always had a really hard time putting into words the distinction between mortal and venial sin, but this blog post did an amazing job. (The link is to the Domine, da mihi hanc aquam blog- the author is a Dominican priest and is very well written and thought out- check it out.)

01 June 2009

Thine Eyes Documentary

There is a wonderful documentary that has just been released called Thine Eyes. It's about this years March for Life in Washington DC. If you ever feel like you are alone in this fight to end abortion- watch the video. It's truly uplifting. For the next week, you can watch it free on this site.

Pass the word along to others who might enjoy the video.

UN states that criminalizing abortion is torture

I can't believe this. The committee in charge of overseeing the Convention Against Torture (CAT) has declared that Nicaragua's law that forbids abortion violates the Torture Convention. (See the story here )

I've read a lot of allegations against the pro-life movement, and I am rarely outraged anymore, but this is outrageous! Last year, as part of my international law training, I spent a lot of time looking at what torture is, how we define it etc. I read some truly heinous accounts of what we do to our fellow humans- quite often it turned my stomach and gave me nightmares.

I can't even believe that someone would say that preventing the murder of unborn children is torture to the mothers. And yet, this is what the committee is saying. I don't understand it. They have to have read the same court cases and first hand accounts that I did- of people being starved, beaten and broken, and yet they can equate that with the murder of an unborn child? I don't understand.

Internationally there is no one accepted definition of torture (this causes problems, but that's international law for you) The CAT has the most widely accepted definition and defines torture in Article 1 as:

...the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Please tell me how any of that equates to preventing women from having abortions, because I just don't see how that works. I expect silly statements like this from Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations, but not from the UN committee who's sole purpose is to find and prosecute instances of torture around the globe.

There are men, women and children being tortured in many countries around the world as we speak. The UN is doing nothing to stop it, mostly for political reasons. But a country that tries to protect life? Well that must be torture. Because its politically expedient and because the UN is trying to push a population control agenda, we will go after that.

This is disgusting and a betrayal of the values the UN was founded on. I've long thought that the UN is irrelevant, and with decisions like this, they are merely proving my point.

08 May 2009

The Grand Tour

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I just wanted to say there will be no posting in the month of May as I am in Europe for my version of a Grand Tour.

God Bless, and keep fighting for Life!

21 April 2009

Development and Peace

Lately there have been a few more developments in the D&P story. I haven't been covering them all, but Lifesite launched a new website that contains all their info on D&P and everything that's been published elsewhere on this story. You can see it here.

I have been reflecting and praying about this story, and while my position has not changed- I think D&P needs to be investigated and reorganized- I am not going to cover any more stories on the blog about it. I am afraid that I am falling into the trap of reporting every new development not because I want to inform people, but because I want to see D&P fail, which is not a charitable reason, nor is it the reason I started this blog.

If there are major developments, I will of course write about them, but if it is just more partners being connected with abortion, I won't post. I have been wondering how to still ensure people who want the information get it, and then I found the new Lifesite website. They will keep you up to date on any developments.

God Bless!

14 April 2009

Catholic Register on Development and Peace

The Catholic Register published an editorial about the Development and Peace allegations. You can read it here. Essentially they are saying that the CCCB's investigation into D&P is not going to be effective because it is too partisan.

I hope they are wrong, but I fear that they may be correct. The fact that the investigation is being done by people involved in D&P is worrisome, but I hope that everyone involved can get beyond that and do an honest and unbiased investigation into the allegations. I do support the Register's call for the final report to be released in its entirety. I think we all deserve that, especially if we are supposed to base our contribution decisions on the outcome of this report.

To ensure this does happen, make sure you keep contacting your Bishops, and ask when the report will be released. The worst thing we can do at this point is let this issue drop so the CCCB can avoid dealing with the allegations. If we want the truth, we can't let this just go away.

13 April 2009

Missing Girls

Just read this article in the NY Times. As I imagine most people are aware, China has a huge problem with sex selected abortion. As a result of the enforced one child policy, the cultural preference for boys, and recent developments in technology, baby girls are often aborted.

A recent study shows that in the 0-20 age range, China has 32 million more boys than girls.

32 million!

People are talking about the huge social ramifications this will have on the country- potential for increased violence without the "calming and settling" influence of women, increasing demographic decline but no one is talking about the psychological impact this will have on the country.

I can't imagine the trauma the mothers and fathers who've been forced to abort their daughters are going through. We know abortion has long range traumatic effect- post abortion syndrome for example. Generally that impacts on the individual level, but when the country's policy is to abort children, that impact has to expand the the national level. How does an entire country heal from those scars?

And the other part that saddens me (which the NY Times article never talked about) is the loss of all those lives. Those little girls were killed as a result of official government policy! And more and more are being killed every day.

The study says that China is trying some "imaginative and extreme scenarios" to fix the gender imbalance. Here's one they should consider: CANCEL THE ONE CHILD POLICY, and CRIMINALIZE ABORTION.

Is that innovative and extreme enough?

And, as a side note- if there is nothing wrong with abortion, why are we concerned that the Chinese are aborting themselves into extinction and self imposing genocide on themselves? The hypocrisy of the pro-choice mentality shows itself once again.

08 April 2009

CCCB will investigate Development and Peace

In a statement ( found here ) today, the CCCB announced they were forming a committee to investigate the allegations against D&P's Mexican partners accused of supporting abortion.

From the article:

"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."

I want to thank the CCCB for stepping up and calling for an investigation. When they finish with the Mexican partners, I hope they will look at the partners in the 8 other countries.

Everyone keep praying for this situation, and if you wrote to you bishop, please thank him for the CCCB's commitment to investigate.

I hope this investigation will bear fruit.

07 April 2009

Another Allegation against a Development and Peace partner

Lifesite has found evidence that another D&P partner supports abortion. The NGO Fokupers in East Timor is currently in a battle with Catholic Bishops in East Timor over the NGO's support of abortion. And the Canadian Bishops, through D&P are supporting this group. Read the story here.

This is another short post (I have another exam this week) but I encourage you all to read the report, and follow the links provided to verify the veracity of Lifesites claim.

I don't know what else to say. D&P clearly has ties with groups that support abortion. And it's not just one partner- this seems to be a cancer infesting the whole D&P organization. We need a thorough, independent investigation to be carried out on D&P.

Again, speak with your bishops. And beyond that, speak with your friends and fellow parishioners. I don't know why this is happening, but it can be a teaching moment; on the need to help out with development, but also the need to carefully inquire into the organizations you give money to, to ensure they comply with Church teachings. Apparently even agencies supported by the CCCB are not immune from the culture of death.

06 April 2009

Clear Evidence of Development and Peace Partner supporting abortion

Lifesite has found another Mexican D&P partner supporting abortion. Read the story here.

This group compares legislation preventing abortion to "torture" and "cruel and inhuman punishment." Wow.

I really wish I had time to comment on this- I spent 8 month last year investigating what constitutes torture and cruel and inhuman punishment, but this has to be a short post- I have an exam in a the morning and will try to comment when the chaos of exams is over.

Please read the story- it's horrifying and gives, I think, some of the best direct evidence against and D&P partner that we have seen.

And, I cannot believe that Catholics are supporting an organization that compares a CHILD to the agonies inflicted by torturers around the world. It is bad enough that a group that would claim something like that exists, and horrific that Catholic money is funding them- to the tune of $35,000 so far, and $175,000 if D&P isn't stopped.

Keep contacting your bishops. Please.

The 10 Electoral Commandments

In keeping with the recent theme of thanking bishops who take courageous stands for life and Church teachings, I thought I'd share this link with you.

Bishop Olvera of Cuernvaca, Mexico distributed a pamphlet to all the parishes in his diocese which contained "electoral commandments" and principles to use in choosing who to vote for. The pamphlet does not specify political party, but states that "Catholics should not vote for parties favoring the legalization of abortion, homosexual unions, euthanasia, and pornography, among other policies."

I tried to find an English copy of the pamphlet, but was unable to, and my Spanish is non-existent, so we're stuck with news reports.

All I can say is thank you Bishop Olvera. We need more of our bishops and priests to stand up for the Church. If our bishops and priests won't educate the faithful on Church teachings, who will?

01 April 2009

Archbishop denounces Lifesite

It has just come to my attention (via this Lifesite article) that Archbishop Bohan of Regina has called the allegations against Development and Peace false. He did this in a statement dated March 25. He and Archbishop Weisgerber of Winnipeg are the only two bishops to publicly claim Lifesite's allegations are untrue. Archbishop Bohan asked parishioners to continue to donate money to D&P because of "the excellent work that Development and Peace does in the world to mitigate poverty and thus save countless lives of children and vulnerable people." Speaking specifically as the "chief Shepherd of our diocesan Church" he finds the allegations to be "a malicious attack on this important and sacred work that the Catholic people in Canada do for the poor in the world through Development and Peace."

I am sure that no one is going to be surprised that I disagree strongly with Archbishop Bohan. As I have said before, the allegations against D&P are serious, and good evidence has been offered to substantiate the claims. The mission of Lifesite is to provide coverage on life and family issues occurring around the world. They are not a malicious organization out to get anyone. Instead, they are dedicated to the promotion of life. They do good investigative work, and publish their findings. Just because the investigations uncover something unpleasant doesn't mean they are malicious.

With all due respect to the two Archbishops, I think they are wrong. I think they are ignoring evidence because for some reason I won't speculate on, they do not want to admit that D&P could do anything wrong. Both men speak of the good work D&P does. Lifesite is not denying that they do good work. They are simply saying that work is all for nothing if D&P's partners are also complicit in abortion. Let's not forget what abortion is. It is the intentional killing of a human being. If D&P's money goes to organizations that support abortion, any lives they save through their other programs are negated by the evil of abortion. I do not think the Archbishops understand that.

Unlike me, Lifesite has never called for people to stop funding D&P. They are simply asking for an investigation to take place. I also want to see an investigation, but I'm also asking everyone to stop donating until we know exactly what is going on. I've heard from others who think that now that investigations are occurring, we should still donate because the money won't go to D&P until the investigation is done. I understand that position, but I disagree with it for the following reasons:

  1. Not all diocese are investigating the allegations. If your diocese is not, your money might go to D&P without investigation
  2. D&P has only promised to investigate their Mexican partners, not the other partners in 7 other countries. This means that even if they fix any problems in Mexico, there are still other problems with other partners.
  3. D&P is conducting their own internal investigation. With all due respect, based on the denials D&P first issued, I don't think they can conduct a truly unbiased investigation.

Until a full, complete and arms reach investigation is completed, I don't think anyone should donate money to D&P, because the evidence of complicity in abortion is strong. Instead, take the money you would have donated to D&P and give it to another development organization that is not in any way involved with organizations supporting abortion.

With all due respect to Archbishops Bohan and Weisgerber, I think they are ignoring the strength of the evidence and as a result are giving poor advice to parishioners.

31 March 2009

Priests for Life on D&P

Today, Fr. Thomas Lynch, the Director of Priests for Life released a press release on the Development and Peace situation titled "To whom much is given much will be demanded." Read the story here. In the letter, Fr. Lynch commended the Bishops who've called for a full investigation of D&P, and asked all the Canadian Bishops to do the same. His final words need to be carefully considered by everyone following this story:

"The development work of the Catholic Church is an integral part of our constant teaching and call. The furtherance of this work in full and uncompromising accord with well known and immutable Catholic principles of social justice for all - especially the pre-born, defenseless and vulnerable - is essential."

Let's keep praying for a good end to this situation, and for our bishops and priests to continue to stand up for life always.

More allegations against D&P Partners

Lifesite has found two more D&P partners that allegedly support abortion. See the story here. The groups are Kay Fanm and Fanm Deside, both located in Haiti. These two new allegations bring the total number of partners allegedly involved in abortion to 12 in 6 different countries. I would like to be shocked by this, but I am finding that I just expect new allegations to be made every day. The evidence against these two parties is as compelling as the evidence against the rest.

Lifesite has also published a good summary of all the allegations to date in a new editorial found here. The final point at the end of the editorial is that the time has come for the CCCB to launch an independent investigation into D&P's partners before any more money goes to them. I hope the CCCB takes that suggestion to heart.

Each new allegation is simply confirming the feeling I've had since this story broke- there is something rotten in the Development and Peace organization. I want to believe that D&P is unaware of these groups practice of supporting abortion and contraception, but I'm starting to wonder if they actually knew about these connections and have failed to do their job of ensuring that Catholic teachings are followed. I know there are many Catholics who do not follow the Church's teaching, but I really hope that an organization as intimately connected to the CCCB would not fall into that category. Each new revelation makes me question this however.

All I can say is keep writing your bishops and priests, and keep the pressure on D&P to do a thorough investigation and not simply brush this all under the rug. I'm presently trying to compose my own new response to D&P. Once I send it, I will post it here, and if I get a response, I will post that here too.

Let's keep praying for this organization, and God's will will be done.

It has also come to my attention that some of you are interested in commenting/passing things along to me that you are not comfortable sharing in the very public comment box. As a result, I've created an e-mail account you can send messages to: catholiclawstudent@gmail.com

30 March 2009

D&P Responds, More Allegations

It was a busy weekend in the D&P story. I'm going to list off and link the developments first, and then comment.


  1. On Thursday, Lifesite reported that its continuing investigations of D&P had turned up partners in Africa that advocate abortion and contraception. See story here. The partners are Women
    Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (Nigeria), Coalition Nationale des Femmes - Droits et Citoyenneté (Guinea) and Forces en action pour le mieux-être de la mère et de l'enfant (Togo).

  2. On Friday, Lifesite reported that it had uncovered two D&P partners in Brazil who support abortion. See the story here. The partners are Rural Women's Movement and Federation of Organs for Social and Educational Assistance.

  3. Two more Canadian Bishops, Archbishop Miller of Vancouver and Archbishop O'Brien of Kingston, announced that their diocese will investigate D&P's partners before turning over any money to them. See the story here.

  4. On Friday, D&P's new President, Pat Hogan, published this response to the original allegations against the Mexican partners. In it D&P agrees to "temporarily suspend funding to all five Mexican partners."

  5. I finally received a response on Friday to my questions. Sort of. I asked five distinct questions, and the response was a form letter giving me the link to the above mentioned response. Mr. Hogan's entire response to me was this:

    "Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing your concerns with me.
    I am writing to you today as the new President of Development and Peace to share some reflections on the events of the last two weeks. It has been alleged on some internet sites recently that Development and Peace has been funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
    Please read my latest statement about these events at the following link: http://www.devp.org/devpme/eng/pressroom/2009/comm2009-03-26-eng.html
    Yours in Christ,
    Pat Hogan
    President of National Council
    Development and Peace"

  6. According to both the National Catholic Registrar and Lifesite, D&P has refused to respond to allegations that some of its Bolivian partners also support abortion. The Registrar sent a series of questions to D&P and was told by D&P's communication manager Eleanore Fournier-Tombs that, "We don't have anything to add on the article that was published about Bolivia." Interestingly, the CCCB has also refused to respond to these allegations stating they do not have the information to answer the questions.

So, to summarize, another 5 of D&P's 200 partners have been accused of promoting abortion. Two of the groups even define abortion as a "right" on their websites. Two more Canadian Bishops have declared that these allegations are serious enough to require an investigation. D&P has finally made a response that takes the allegations seriously and is attempting to deal with them. D&P has failed to address any of the new allegations.


Wow. I am still shocked by how large this story is getting, and shocked by D&P's inability or unwillingness to take this story seriously.

I am impressed by the (now) four bishops who've taken action and are launching an investigation into D&P. That's all I've been asking the bishops to do. As shepherds of their flock, it is their duty to ensure that the time, talent and treasure of their flock is used in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

I am disheartened by D&P's response. In many ways, to me at least, it seems like too little too late. This story first broke on 13 March 2009. It took D&P two weeks to respond with anything but denials. Only now (I'm assuming because bishops are asking questions and the flow of money has slowed) are they actually doing anything to investigate these partners. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they are doing it, but shouldn't these investigations have been something they did before partnering with these groups in the first place?

And, if they actually take this seriously, why are they not commenting on the other allegations made? I know it takes time to identify the appropriate course of action, but then they should respond with "we are looking into this" not "we have anything to say."

Also, why the scurrilous attacks against the people who've brought this story to light? Why is the national president responding to inquiries by concerned Catholics saying "alleged on some internet sites recently" and not noting who is making the allegations? Lifesite is much more than an internet source- it has credible journalists who back up their stories with facts. They aren't just bloggers who can get away with saying anything they want.

To be quite honest, I am disappointed that they responded to my e-mail with a form letter that didn't address the questions I asked (I posted those questions on a previous post.) The link the president gave me didn't answer my questions, which were about the process D&P uses to select partners. I know I don't have a lot of money to make donations with, but one day I might, and anyway, the size of the donation should not impact the quality of the response given.

I hope D&P follows through with its commitments to investigate all its partners. I hope they are willing to do a proper, unbiased investigation, because the evidence Lifesite has gathered is compelling to say the least. I also hope they agree to investigate the other partners allegations have been made against. In light of this whole situation, I think the entire D&P council needs to open investigations into all their partners, and make some changes to how they decide who they will partner with. In short, I think D&P needs to do some major spring cleaning before we, as Catholics, can support them again.

As always, feel free to comment, and I will let you know more as soon as it develops.

Oh, and in response to questions about where else to donate money instead of D&P, Lifesite has compiled a list of pro-life groups working in the developing world. You can see the list here.

25 March 2009

D&P and Diocese of Peterborough

Bishop De Angelis of the Diocese of Peterborough announced in a letter to his diocese today that D&P will not receive any funding until from his diocese until a thorough investigation into the allegations of supporting abortion is conducted. See story here.

In making this move, Bishop De Angelis joins with Archbishop Collins of Toronto. Neither bishop is denying funds to D&P, they are just refusing to release any funds until someone gets to the bottom of this story.

I want to commend both bishops for taking such a strong stand for the unborn, and I hope that other bishops will do the same. When you write to your bishop about this topic, mention that other bishops are refusing to give funds to D&P until this is investigated and ask them why they aren't doing the same thing.

The Share Lent collection goes this weekend, so we need to make sure our priests and bishops are aware, and thinking about this issue before they permit the collection to be taken.

In Defence of Lifesite

Based on responses I've been hearing from friends, family and some strangers, I feel a need to defend Lifesite. Before I do that, I want to link to the editorial Steve Jalsevac and John-Henry Westen, the managing director and editor-in-chief of Lifesite respectively, published yesterday on the D&P saga. You can read it here.

I don't blame them for publishing the editorial, and I think they do a good job of reiterating their position. I have to compliment them on their reasonableness and charity in their frank discussion of the events of the past 10 days. (I know if it was me, I'd be hard pressed to not be snarky and sarcastic.)

I think the line that made me saddest and proudest of Lifesite is this one from the very bottom of the article "The Development and Peace response has caused many, especially persons who are not regular readers of LSN, to question the credibility of LifeSiteNews.com. That has forced us to continue to provide additional evidence of the facts until the facts overwhelm, which we are committed to doing in the coming days."

First, I think its sad that people would rather assume Lifesite is not credible than really look into the allegations against D&P. I have been following Lifesite news for the last year and I find them to be an invaluable resource in learning about what is going on in the world because the mainstream media rarely delves deeply into life issues. Every time I have done external research to their reports, I have found their reports to be accurate and credible. In some cases, I find that they have actually pulled punches that I would have landed much harder. (Again, its that charity thing I struggle with :) They do good work, and for anyone who isn't familiar with their work, stay with them.

Second, I am proud of them. It is when people are tested that we see their true colors come out. I can imagine that the feedback they are receiving right now is not always pleasant. And yet, they have not stooped to the level of ad hominum attacks or lashed out with angry, hurtful comments. Instead, they've made a commitment to investigate this issue until "the facts overwhelm." That's true journalism. They want you to be convinced, because of the facts, not because they say it.

In many ways its the opposite of what D&P has been doing. D&P tells you their position, but gives no explanation for it. Lifesite on the other hand cites and backs up all the statements they make. Who is the most believable? I think you all know my position.

I'm also waiting with great interest to see what they have to say about further allegations against D&P partners. I don't think this story is over, not by a long shot.

Please pray for everyone involved in this process- D&P, Lifesite, D&P's partners, the bishops, the laity who contribute, and watch and wait. The truth will come out. I can only hope we will all act on that truth.

24 March 2009

Luxembourg Becomes 3rd Country to Legalize Euthanasia

You may remember that last year I blogged about the euthanasia situation in Luxembourg. (See posts here.) The Parliament passed the bill, but because Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy, it needed the royal assent of Grand Duke Ferdinand. The Grand Duke refused to sign the bill because he finds euthanasia morally wrong.

The only thing for the Parliament to do was change the constitution so it no longer needed the Grand Duke's assent. That is what they did. And now, as a result, euthanasia is legal in Luxembourg. (See story here.)

As I did before, I want to express my admiration for the Grand Duke. He is living his faith the way all politicians and leaders should- that is, he is following it, no matter what it means. He is now just a figurehead in his country, but his courage in standing up against this atrocity must be commended. If the world only had more leaders like him, life would be a lot different.

And I just want to note that Europe is setting a scary example for the rest of the world. In the US, Washington and Oregon only went so far as to legalize assisted suicide (which is bad enough) but the European countries are skipping that minor step and jumping right to full fledged euthanasia! Although, maybe that is better- none of this , well its only for the terminally ill junk we get in North America, when we all know it really isn't limited to that. In Europe, they aren't limiting themselves at all- it's just full steam ahead on the Good Ship Death. (taking snarky hat off now)

I pray God blesses you, Grand Duke (sorry I don't know the proper form of address) and that other leaders will take courage from you position and also stand by their convictions. We all need to pray hard people, pray hard!

Update: Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has a great post on the Grand Duke here.

D&P's Partners and the Mexico City Policy

Lifesite has released another well documented article on further actions taken by D&P's Mexican partners (2 of the same partners from the first e-mail) regarding abortion. Read it here.

As this story seems to show no sign of ending because D&P is exhibiting no willingness to respond or take action to investigate (I still have no response to my e-mail of a week ago) I am going to encourage everyone to write their bishop and ask him to take action.

Mention to them that you've read the CCCB's response (linked to in the previous post) but that you don't think it takes the allegations seriously enough. Also mention that Archbishop Collins of Toronto is taking steps to investigate the allegations, and ask them what they are doing. I'm hoping that if the Bishop's hear enough about this, they will take action, and hopefully their action will convince D&P to end their partnerships, because at least one of these abortion supporting partners will remain a partner until 2011.

The contact information for every bishop in Canada can be found here. My Bishop (Legatt of Saskatoon) has indicated he is going with what the CCCB says, so I ask all members of the Saskatoon diocese to flood his office. I've also heard rumors that my other Bishop (Henry of Calgary) is doing nothing. (Once I can substantiate these rumors I will- at that point please flood his office as well.) And for those of you fortunate enough to be in Archbishop Collins diocese, please write him letters of support.

If your bishop has taken a stand (one way or the other) please comment in this post so we all know where our Bishops stand. If you don't know what to say, or how to give the bishop's the evidence, feel free to take anything off of this site that you think is valuable. I have permissions from everyone who's contributed to share their thoughts, and as long as you provide the links to Lifesite, Catholic Registrar and Development and Peace, they can have no copyright issues with you.

The Share Lent campaign is picking up steam, and do not want any children aborted because of money from Catholics in Canada, however indirect the connection might be.

20 March 2009

Development and Peace Responds

At some point today, the CCCB released a response to the D&P issue. I received this statement, along with 2 others to my email as a pdf. It was forwarded to me by a friend who had asked his Bishop about the allegations. Lifesite has published a copy of the CCCB's letter, so I'm linking to it. It is the exact same letter as the one I received via e-mail. The link is here. D&P also published the same letter. If you want to see it on their website, it can be found here.

The other 2 letters I received are from D&P themselves. One is a letter, a summary of which is found on their website, explaining D&P's position. The link is here. The other letter is a description by D&P of their partners in Mexico. I can't find the same letter online, so I have cut and paste it at the end of this post.

Lifesite has now published the interview that led to their first story. It can be found here.

Lifesite has also published the response of several other Catholic organizations to the allegation. The link is here.

They have also published the response of a pro-life leader in Mexico who has first hand experience of these groups. It can be found here.

In many ways this case seems like a he said/she said case in court. Neither side agrees on what is going on. Lifesite has direct testimony from a D&P employee stating that D&P works with groups involved in abortion. D&P's president has denied that and claimed that those partners don't support abortion but instead signed their name to a document dealing with abortion but don't support it.

To be quite honest, I'm not sure what to think, so I'm going to try to break it down by treating it like a legal case (because thats what I've been trained to do). That means looking at the allegations and evidence offered to support or deny them.

Facts and Evidence

1) Lifesite raised the issue. In a civil case (which is what this would be) that places the burden on proof on them to prove on the balance of probabilities that their allegations are true. The civil standard of balance of probabilities means 51%, it does not mean beyond a reasonable doubt.

2) Lifesite in it's first article raised a prima facie case. That means there was enough evidence in the article to establish the allegations. Lifesite had the transcript from Brunelli stating that some of D&P's partners were involved in abortion. Lifesite cited all their claims, and gave evidence showing that a) money went to specific organizations and b) those organizations support abortion in some way.

3) D&P has responded by denying these partners are involved in abortoin supporting activities. As evidence of their assertion, they offer the description of each of their partners found at the bottom of this e-mail.

4) The CCCB has spoken and said that D&P follows the church's teaching on life. They offer no evidence beyond their statement.

5) Mexican pro-life groups (who deal with these partners regularily) have stated they promote abortion. The only evidence offered is their testimony.

6) Catholic pro-life groups have stated that D&P should no longer be funded because of these activities. They offer no evidence to back up their claims and seem to be relying on Lifesites coverage.

7) D&P has been further accused by the National Catholic Registrar of funding pro-abortion groups in Bolivia. The evidence offered is the description of the group on its website, and links to the funding they have recieved from D&P.


The testimony offered by the Mexican pro-life leader is unsubstantiated. I cannot properly consider it to draw my conclusion.

The testimony of Catholic pro-life groups is hearsay and cannot be properly considered as they do not seem to have done any research themselves, but are relying on the Lifesite article.

The CCCB's statement is a wordy statement that says almost nothing about the allegations. It states D&P follows the teachings on the sanctity of life. They offer no proof, so their statement has little weight.

The Lifesite and Catholic Registrar report are properly cited. You can follow the links (as my friend Robin did) to learn more about the groups in question and their activities.

D&P response offers no citations or proof to back up their response.


As stated at the beginning, because Lifesite made the allegations, they are required to show on the balance of probablities that their allegations are true. Once they have done that, D&P merely needs to show that they have a plausible, alternate scenario supported by the facts and evidence to refute the allegations.

I think Lifesite has done a good job in establishing the facts supporting their allegations. D&P has not addressed these in any substantial manner. Their response has simply been a denial. Their alternate theory is not supported by any citations or evidence, and is directly contradicted by Lifesite's properly cited evidence.

In my opinion, on these facts, Lifesite has met the burden of proof to show D&P partners with groups who support abortion. The conversation with Brunelli is very revealing, especially this statement: "For us, the criterion is not pro-life or pro-abortion, it is 'do the piece of work that they propose to us is something we want to support and something within our parameters?" If it is yes, we support them and if not, we don't."

In my mind, I think it is likely that D&P has partners who support abortion. That means D&P supports abortion indirectly and I cannot in good conscience support them without supporting abortion myself. Until D&P pulls its support from these organizations (which it does not intend to do, based on its statements) I cannot and will not give funds to them. I will also tell others they should not donate as well.

If other evidence comes to light, I am more than willing to revisit the issue, but I am very dissapointed with D&P's response. I have never received a response to my e-mail, and their denials do not show them taking this issue seriously. They do not cite any sources they give and seem to expect us to believe them just because they say so. These are serious allegations and need to be addressed properly. D&P has failed to do this and should not be supported.

Feel free to comment in the comment box- I am open to being convinced that I am wrong, but based on the evidence, I don't see any other option. If you would like me to send you the originals of any of the 3 documents, just leave me a message stating so and I will e-mail them to you.

D&P's description of its Mexican partners is here:


Commitment to human rights has always been and remains an important focus for DEVELOPMENT ANDPEACE. Our work is devoted to social justice in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, promoting a globalculture of peace and justice based on our profound belief in the sacredness of all life and the dignity ofthe human person. As a Catholic organization, we are in full communion with the Catholic Church inCanada and the Bishops of Canada on all moral and ethical issues governed by the teachings of theCatholic Church.

Human rights are an important and topical issue in Mexico in every sense of the term. Mexico is
periodically reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (based in Geneva), most recently inFebruary 2009. Official government institutions as well as civil society organizations (NGOs) areconsulted in this process.Our partners and some grassroots Catholic groups who are not partners of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE (religious orders, parishes and Catholic laity) also participate in these national consultations, with a widevariety of other groups who report on human rights issues in their respective sectors.

The Report of Organizations of Civil Society on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights inMexico is the summary input of all of these various submissions into the final UN document Report ofthe Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review ‐ Mexico, which is then reviewed at the UnitedNations and with the Government of Mexico.It is this Report of Organizations of Civil Society on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights
in Mexico that is cited in the article recently posted on a pro‐life Website, alleging that five of our
partners in Mexico (out of 11) are actively promoting abortion. A brief profile of these partners follows.

1. Red “Todos los derechos para todas y todos” (“All Rights for Everyone” Network)

A social network of 54 organizations—including many Catholic organizations and the Justice, Peace andLife Commission sponsored by religious organizations—that works for human rights throughout Mexico. D&P funding is institutional, to help the network structure civil society, and organize meetings andtraining courses. The organization participates in the periodic review of human rights in Mexicoconducted under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Network’s areas of workare: human rights for women; the collective rights of indigenous peoples; economic, social, cultural and environmental rights; security and administration of justice; working with formal structures of human rights; and the protection and training of “defenders” of human rights. The organization takes positions on women's rights. Their work is well respected both in Mexico and internationally.

2. RMALC (Mexican Action Network on Free Trade)

As its name indicates, this network of NGOs was founded in response to the Free Trade Agreement ofthe Americas (FTAA) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The issues they address concern the impact of free trade (and its current rules) on the poor and workers. Like many other Mexican civil society organizations (105), they signed the document submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in the context of the periodic review of human rights in Mexico.

3. Center PRODH (Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center)

An organization founded by the Jesuits to promote human rights, participation and social justice.
Development and Peace provides them with institutional support, particularly to increase their
capacities to defend victims of human rights violations. For example, a member of their staff was
assassinated, and they worked with our Education Department to bring the perpetrators to justice. The recognition of the seriousness and quality of their work is great: they have consultative status with the UN’s ECOSOC and are accredited as observers to the Organization of American States. They receive funding from several Catholic organizations, including the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops and several Caritas organizations in Europe.

4. CENCO (National Centre for Social Communication)

Founded in 1964 by the Mexican Catholic bishops and independent since 1969, CENCOS maintains links with the Church. Its area of activity is civil communication, community radio, freedom of speech and press, etc. CENCOS develops communication tools to assist in the development of democracy, justice, equality and human dignity in Mexico. CENCOS receives funding from, among other sources, the World Association of Christian Communication.

5. CIEPAC (Centre for Economic and Policy Research and Community Action)

A group based in Chiapas that focuses on developing more just economic and social models and respect for human rights, particularly for the indigenous peoples and farmers of Chiapas. They work in research and education. We have worked with CIEPAC in our campaigns on water and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Our funding provides core institutional support.

In all these cases, the organizations supported by DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE do not advocate or promote legalizing abortion. They work in many diverse areas of social justice according to their mandate and, on the occasion of the periodic UN human rights review, they participate in major national coalitions—along with many Catholic and non‐Catholic organizations—who advocate that human rights berespected in Mexico.

(Note- The last 9 paragraphs of this post are not mine; they are the text of D&P's description of their Mexican partners. I have included the full text here because I could not find an online source to link to. They in no way represent my position, which can be found at the top of this post)