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.