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.

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