17 March 2009

Further Development and Peace Developments

Shortly after sending out the e-mail and posting a story on the blog last week alleging that Development and Peace (D&P) are funding/partnering with groups who support abortion, I received a response from a friend whom I'd sent the e-mail to. She had passed it along to other friends, who were involved with D&P and they'd asked D&P for their response. D&P's executive director, Michael Casey posted a response to the article at here and asked D&P members to forward all inquiries to him. In his response, he states that D&P follow the teachings of the Church, and stated that some journalists deliberately misinterpret D&P's work. In my opinion, this response did not go far enough to address the issue, because serious allegations were made, so I wrote to Mr. Casey asking him 5 specific questions (after explaining my interest in the issue). My questions were:

1) What is Development and Peace's position on abortion?
2) Do you carefully examine all groups you give funds to/partner with to ensure they do not in any way support abortion or pro-choice activities in general? How thorough are your background checks on these organizations?
3) Did you give or partner with:
a) Augustin Pro Juarez Center for Human Rights
b) Mexican Network for Action Regarding Free Trade
c) Center for Economic and Political Research for Community Action"
d) National Center for Social Communication
e) Network for All Rights for Everyone
4) If you did partner or grant funds to any of the above groups, are you certain they do not in any way support abortion? If so, why are you certain of that?
5) A local Development and Peace member told a friend of mine that "Lifesite has been trying to discredit D&P for some time"; Is this the position of Development and Peace, and if so what proof can you offer of that?

I have heard no response to my questions. Other people I've spoken to who also contacted D&P after the response were posted have also heard nothing.

I was asked to pass the Mr. Casey's posted response along to everyone I'd sent the first e-mail to so that they could have both sides of the story. I think that is a fair request, and that's what I'm doing now. The reason I didn't post it when first requested is I wanted to get more facts straight, because I realized in my zeal to protect life I may have jumped the gun. I should have contacted D&P before making the first post, so I do apologize to all of you

Further developments have occurred.

Yesterday, Lifesite responded to the controversy around their first article (Read it here). In my blog post, I asked you not to donate to D&P because of the abortion connections. I want to make it clear that was my request, not something Lifesite was advocating. They were just trying to pass the information along. Despite Mr. Casey's response, I am still asking you to not donate to D&P. Another friend was curious about the allegations, so she did a little bit of investigation to see what was really going on. Below are her findings. (I have not changed them in any way except for some formatting because the copy and paste didn't work so well):

Life Site News on Development and Peace

Well, here it goes! This is a crazy problem.

I have spent the last 2 ½ hours reading about all of this. I'll try to lay this out systematically.

Firstly: here is the link to the LifeSiteNews.com article, where they accuse Development and Peace of funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico. Read it!:


Secondly: here is the response of D & P to the article. Read it!:


Thirdly: Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about abortion, just to refresh ourselves: (See CCC paragraphs 2270-2275)
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception."
"Formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life […] The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society."

I would like to say that I have not approved of some of Life Site News' tactics, and find them to be at times reactionary and emotional. Take for example their recent push for donations, wherein the donor's name is sent to Henry Morgentaler…. saying that the donor gave to the site in Morgentaler's name. Yes: ask for donations. Yes: send the list of names to Morgentaler and the government of Canada. No: to mud-slinging, almost ad hominem tactics, getting more money out of people through the incentive of making Morgentaler squirm. The focus becomes weighted on the people in both camps, and not as weighted on our unborn brothers and sisters (http://lsn1securesites.net/lifesitenews/donate/informationmcc.html).

I say all this because I have to admit I was going to the reading prejudiced against Life Site News. Not that I believed they were lying, I just wanted to make absolutely sure of everything that was said in the article.

Breakdown of claims in the article:
• I was unable to find some of the numbers on the internet: such as the statement of how only $50,000 of the $438,000 went to Caritas, the organization that actually helps the poor with food and medical help (I'm not saying it will never be found anywhere)

• The recipients of money are confirmed here, on D & P's plan for Latin America, 2006-2011 (see p. 128, especially 131-132): http://www.devp.org/devpme/documents/eng/pdf/ProgramLatinAmerica2011_Eng.pdf.

• The number $438,000 is confirmed on the mini report: http://www.devp.org/devpme/eng/publications/documents/Mini_RapportAnnuel_2008.pdf.

• I went to all the sites of the partners to D & P in Mexico. I either used Google to translate the site from Spanish, or put portions of pdf's through an online translator.

• I couldn't find all the quotes, but now I don't doubt they were there. I couldn't find all of them only because I could not copy and paste entire legal documents into the translator, for time's sake. BUT I FOUND ENOUGH TO CONVINCE ME THAT MATTHEW CULLINAN HOFFMAN IS TELLING THE TRUTH IN THIS CASE. This conclusion is a bit startling, considering I was slightly prejudiced against Life Site.

o Whenever he states that a group's name was on such-and-such a bill / document, I was able to confirm it every time

o See Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, etc., clauses 34-40, the link is in the Life Site article. These clauses do indeed make the claims Hoffman is speaking of, namely, advocating abortion on demand, standardizing Mexican abortion laws, and a woman's right to "emergency" contraceptives, in other words, abortificients (ie: "the morning after pill")

o "The National Center for Social Communication also acts as a mouthpiece for pro-abortion groups such as 'Catholics for the Right to Decide'…." I also found connections to a group called "Catholics For a Free Choice," I don't know if they are the same group or not. In one part of their site, they complain about the lack of legal attention to abortion in a recent document, "specifically the legal interruption of pregnancy was the missing item."

o So conclusion 1: D & P IS giving money to the groups mentioned in the article, called by them "partners" in Mexico. The groups ARE advocating pro-choice or pro-abortion stands.

• So then I came back to point Life Site makes about funds being "fungible." Even if D & P makes it clear to these organizations that they do not wish their funds to go towards "pro-abortion activities," the fact remains that money is fluid and not concrete; D & P's donations could help those organizations free up other assets so those assets can go towards pro-abortion activities

My "in-between" thoughts
• D & P and the organizations they partner with in Mexico are doing many other activities that any Catholic should support (hence the reason why Michael Casey of D & P accuses Hoffman of misconstruing the intentions of these organizations. You see, the pro-abortion mandate is not the only mandate, and many of their mandates are good)

• A lot of the main issues were admirable: gender equality, free trade, sustainable development, teaching people how to take care of themselves, tougher sentencing in rape and domestic abuse cases

• It occurred to me that D & P has seen that help will come to Mexicans sooner if they work through established organizations. HOWEVER, if this admirable desire requires compromise on life and death matters, it needs to be reoriented towards the Gospel of Love, even if it means starting smaller in 3rd world countries

So then I came back to Michael Casey's reply to the Life Site article:
• "We do not, in any way, support projects that would contravene these fundamental principles, most certainly not projects related to abortion."

o True, they don't support these projects, but

o They ARE supporting the organizations, which is all the Life Site article is claiming

o I sense a distinct lack of citation, especially after reading Hoffman's cited article

• "It is dangerously irresponsible and slanderous on the part of some journalists, through ill-conceived conjecture and hypothesis, to deliberately misinterpret the social justice initiatives of our southern partners in this light."

o I see now that it is not "conjecture" and "hypothesis," because the organizations are open and honest on the internet

o Moreover, Hoffman has cited EVERY claim (except the $50, 000 one) so that anyone can verify what he's saying. If it's merely a reactionary article, he would not have done this

o (Also see above: I think what Casey is saying here is that the organizations do a whole lot more than advocate for abortion. He's right, but they STILL are advocates for abortion)

• He then spends a long paragraph telling us all what we already know: about D & P's admirable work in various areas of social justice around the world

And so my thought right now (I'm willing to be shown other information, etc) is that as a Catholic Christian it is my responsibility to work for social justice, both domestically and internationally. I most likely will not be funding D & P, unless other information turns up, but will continue to fund organizations that I have checked out. There are countless numbers of small Catholic organizations who are working for sustainable living and long-term solutions.

Respectfully submitted ,


First, I want to thank Robin for her amazing investigative work. It is something I should have done but I didn't. She has done an amazing job.

Second, I am disheartened by her findings. I think it is a tragedy that a Catholic group supported by the CCCB would partner with groups who support abortion. I understand that abortion is only one part of their mandate, but that doesn't make it better. Even if D&P asks them not to use their funds for abortion related purposes, their funds free up other funds that can be used for abortion. In my mind, that makes any donation I might make to D&P complicit in abortion, and that makes me complicit in abortion. For that reason, I cannot and will not support D&P until they withdraw from their partnerships with these groups.

I am more than willing to consider other information in this area, but I am very disappointed with D&P's response. They have failed to address some serious allegations, and have instead resorted to impugning the journalistic integrity of Lifesite. If you hear more on this from D&P, especially where they respond to specific allegations please comment in the comment box.

For the person who asked me to pass along both sides of the story I am trying to pass along both sides, and I would love to talk to you about D&P so I can learn more. You are right that both sides should have been heard from the start, and I apologize to you specifically for not doing that. My goal is not to upset anyone, and I know this is a deeply distressing subject, and I thank-you for reminding me of the duty to share both sides.

As I find out about further developments, I will post them. And I ask you all to add the executive and membership of D&P to your prayers.

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