November 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - It's official. In a recent interview with Catholic journalist Deborah Gyapong, Msgr. Pat Powers, the secretary general of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), admitted that the Canadian bishops' development arm has in fact been funding problematic groups.
Msgr. Powers told Gyapong that after having conducted an in-depth review of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace's 248 partners, the bishops had concerns about 13 of them, and ultimately concluded that two of the groups posed a serious problem.
This is hardly what we would have hoped for, given the hard data implicating literally dozens of Development and Peace partners in pro-abortion, pro-contraception and explicitly anti-Catholic activities. But after a year and a half of stonewalling, denials, equivocations, and counterattacks by Development and Peace, the admission has all the appearance of a real breakthrough. It marks the first time throughout this controversy that the bishops have confessed to any wrongdoing whatever by their official international development arm.
Yes, it is disappointing that the true scope of the problem is still being denied in CCCB official statements. But Msgr. Power's revelations may serve as an indication that at least some within the Canadian bishops' conference really are taking the problem seriously.
Nevertheless, while we strive to remain optimistic at LSN that real change is in the works, we are left pondering just which two groups were found to be so bad that the CCCB couldn't stomach supporting them.
Was it the group in Mexico that admitted in a telephone interview with LifeSiteNews that it seeks to make abortion available to women who don't want the "product" of conception, promotes the use of artificial birth control, and has actively opposed state pro-life amendments?
Or maybe it was the group in Nigeria that teamed up with the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the most radical pro-abortion groups on the planet, and co-authored a report urging the government "to guarantee access to safe abortion services" and to improve "access to family planning services, including a full range of contraceptive methods."
Then again, it might have been that youth group in Nigeria that describes how best to teach youth to use condoms and that includes amongst its objectives to "increase information about contraceptive use."
But of course, it might be the group in Nicaragua that has a massive sign hanging in its office saying, "We demand the return of therapeutic abortion," and who told LSN in an interview that the organization supports the legalization of abortion on demand and has been involved in the struggle against Nicaragua's pro-life penal code.
Then again, it might have been the Freedom From Debt Coalition in the Philippines that has been actively involved in a major effort to pressure Filipino legislators to support a Reproductive Health Bill intensely opposed by the country's Catholic bishops.
Or maybe it was the group in Benin that co-authored a report with the Center for Reproductive Rights, in which it lamented that "fertility in Benin is characterized by a low rate of contraceptive prevalence" and "induced illegal and clandestine abortions."
Or perhaps it was the two NGOs in East Timor that spearheaded last year's failed attempt to legalize abortion in the country, even as the local bishops scrambled to mount a counterattack against the very groups that were being funded by their brother bishops in Canada.
On the other hand, it might have been that other Mexican group that told LSN in an interview that it favors the availability of abortion with "appropriate" health conditions, and that issued a statement welcoming a new law in Mexico City permitting abortion as an "advance for the human rights of women."
Of course, it might have been the organization in Haiti that openly complains on its website that there is a "limited recognition" of abortion "rights" in the country and that laments that the government isn't distributing the female condom.
Or maybe it was two of the three groups that the Peruvian bishops explicitly demanded that the Canadian bishops and Development and Peace stop funding.
Even better, it might have been the organization in South Africa that told LifeSiteNews in an interview that the work of the organization includes offering support to the "abortion rights" movement, and that it has a "clear position that women have the right to make decisions over their own bodies."
Or perhaps it was the group in Togo that admitted in a news article that it personally distributed 1.4 million male condoms and 300,000 female condoms in Togo in 2006 alone.
We could go on and on.
There really are so many interesting groups to choose from. We sincerely hope the Canadian bishops have chosen well.