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)


Anonymous said...

Sarah, Thank-you for a very good blog clearly showing, objectively, the arguments put forth by both D&P and LifeSiteNews.com.

Isn't it interesting how D&P deploys the fallacy of "shoot the messenger" along with another other argumentative fallacy like "change the subject", as they try to convince people that there isn't a problem with their outlook
and the way they currently operate?

When did LifeSiteNews.com ever say D&P was entering into partnerships with organizations that are "offering abortion services"? By making this likely true statement, D&P is fallaciously 'changing the subject' to try and sound like this is what they were being accused of.

From what I have read, LifeSiteNews.com only exposed and brought to the light the truth that "The groups support the legalization of abortion on demand throughout Mexico, call for the government to expedite and guarantee existing legal rights to abortion for rape and other reasons, and urge the distribution of contraceptives, including abortifacient 'emergency contraception'." Nowhere did I see LifeSiteNews.com stating that the groups were "actively involved in the practice of abortion".

Also, why do you suppose D&P is negligent in naming the "messenger" (LifeSiteNews.com) on any of the posts on their website? Do they not want people to read the whole interview and see what was really said by LifeSiteNews.com? Perhaps they don't want to lose funding for their "Share Lent" campaign?

D&P's credibility only suffers more as people discover that D&P's website posts only distort what LifeSiteNews.com actually said.

Parishioners should share this blog with their Pastors and demand that the "Share Lent" envelopes For Sunday March 29, 2009 be pulled from the churches until the Canadian Bishops get to the bottom of this and have completed the uncomfortable job of pruning D&P so that it will be truly enabled to bear the full fruit of Christ.

PS. One suggestion for your blog would be to change the layout a bit because when I first scanned it I zipped down to the end to see what your last paragraph said and I initially thought that you were accepting D&P's statements.

Sarah said...


I can't agree more with your point. D&P is trying to turn this into an issue about Lifesites journalistic integrity to avoid answering pointed questions about their partners.

I hadn't noticed that they weren't linking to Lifesite's articles, but now that I look it over again, your absolutely right- they must be afraid of people actually reading the interview, because it is damning.

Yes, Share Lent is an important time for D&P, but I think that makes this report by Lifesite more important. I hope people contact their bishops and priests to prevent Share Lent money from going to these groups.

Thanks for the suggestion! I've added a disclaimer at the bottom of the post... I never thought about that being a possibility, but reading it the way you did I can see how you might come to that conclusion! God bless.

Anonymous said...

For better clarity and shorting up you blog post, if it is possible, you may want to consider dumping the 9 paragraphs of text for "D&P's description of its Mexican partners" into a text or pdf file and upload that to your site and then place a hyperlink to the document.
...just a suggestion :-)

Sarah said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm sure it's possible... I just don't know how to do it (the uploading part that is) :)

Posting posts with links, images and video, and basic HTML is about the extent of my expertise with web-based platforms.

One of these days I'm going to spend some time messing around with the blog and doing some online tutorials to learn how to do more, but until then I think I will have to stick to disclaimers.

Thanks again!