Review of Development and Peace agencies on track and close to completion

In anticipation of its biggest fundraiser of the year, Development and Peace is assuring donors that a review of the practices of 52 partner agencies is on track and will end soon.

A joint review of the partner agencies by staff of the Canadian Conference of Bishops (CCCB) staff and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has been in process since early 2018.

The review is concentrated on whether the Development and Peace partners are promoting views opposed to Church teaching on sexuality, gender theory, abortion and contraception.

In a joint March 29 statement, the bishops’ conference and Development and Peace said: “While no questions have been raised about any projects that CCODP is helping to fund, 52 partner organizations are undergoing a detailed further study and clarification.

“With both CCODP and the CCCB fully participating in this process, it has been rigorous, fair, objective, in keeping with Church teachings, and is further clarified by additional information concerning the nature and context of each situation.”

Development and Peace and the CCCB released an official update in anticipation of the annual Share Lent collections in parishes across Canada on Solidarity Sunday April 7, the Fifth Sunday of Lent. In Edmonton however, donations to Development and Peace are part of the annual Together We Serve appeal.

The joint review of Development and Peace partners has concentrated on 52 agencies since last spring, investigating whether those agencies have co-operated with other, third-party groups that may hold views or take positions at odds with Church teaching. The names of those agencies have not been released.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said he is committed to keeping Development and Peace as part of the Archdiocese’s annual Together We Serve appeal in 2019. In December, he announced the news to the people of the Archdiocese in a joint letter, signed along with Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, Bishop William McGrattan of Calgary, and Bishop Paul Terrio of St. Paul.

Restoring the funding, Smith said, was dependent on a pledge by Development and Peace that none of the money would go to the partner agencies currently under review.

The Alberta bishops have also requested a full accounting of the way in which the 2018 funds are eventually distributed. As well, they are holding D&P to its commitment to review and revise its partnership policy and selection criteria.

While the review continues, those agencies will receive no donor money from Development and Peace.

Along with other Caritas agencies, Development and Peace is highlighting the plight of refugees all year long with their “Share the Journey” campaign. The campaign has been both inspired and endorsed by Pope Francis, who has met with refugees and spoken about the Christian duty to welcome the stranger since his election in 2013.

In Edmonton, the Social Justice Institute, an ecumenical education initiative, will be hosting a daylong conference May 4 on welcoming and supporting refugees and migrants into local communities. The event will be held at Newman Theological College.

The program will focus on stories from recent refugees who have made the Edmonton region their new home, and from those working within local community agencies and settlement agencies and faith communities who accompany them.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Winnie Yeung, co-writer of the Homes: A Refugee Story with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. Al Rabeeah is an Edmonton student who was born in Iraq and survived the civil war in Syria. Yeung was his English teacher. A Canadian best seller, Homes: A Refugee Story was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award for Non-Fiction last year.

-With files from Canadian Catholic News