Now that the Canadian bishops have tacitly admitted the huge problems with Development & Peace’s abortion-pushing friends and sought to put in modest (and even some effective) measures to ensure that Catholic sacrificial offerings are not going to enable the pro-abortion agenda in the Global South, it’s a good time now to assess where Socon or Bust is going with our coverage of social justice scam in the Canadian Church. But before discussing that, I would like to point out a few observations about the whole scandal and the recent response from the bishops.
POINTS OF CONTENTION
1. Financial impact to the pro-abort lobby - If, and it’s a big “if”, we take the Bishops at their word and they intend to actually follow through in their “renewal” of Development & Peace, the money which will soon not be available to the abortion-pushers in the Global South will go a long way in, at the very least, slowing down the decriminalizing of abortion in the Global South. This reason alone should be cause for celebration. Remember, folks, Development & Peace has pumped in over half a BILLION dollars into their projects since the organization’s inception. That buys a lot of condoms. Many (if not most) of these “projects” have been extremely detrimental to both the unborn and the Church in the Global South. Once the “renewal” gets down to “exiting” groups from existing D&P partnerships, most, if not all, of that $30 Million annual budget is going dry up for the pro-aborts. That’s a big deal. (By the way, if everyone just held firm to the faith which St. Paul exhorted us to do instead of venturing out into all of these novelties and avante garde causes, it wouldn’t be necessary to keep “renewing” ourselves.)
2. Three birds with one stone – Although most of us are seeing the recent announcement by the bishops as a modest victory for the unborn, it actually goes much further than that. Much further. You see, in Socon or Bust’s research over the past 20 months into the whole “social justice” gig in the Church, we’ve been able to gather a lot of intelligence on how the international pro-abort lobby works. One of the constant themes discovered in our research into the abortion push in the Global South, for instance, is that in many cases, the groups in questions were decidedly Marxist in their social and economic orientation. Some more than others, but it was a common ideology running through Development & Peace’s pro-abort partners. The support for Marxism by D&P is theologically based on their erroneous convictions regarding liberation theology. The significance of this cannot be underestimated since, as Development & Peace applies the bishops’ “exit strategy“ to the abortion groups, it invariably means that the Marxists (who are always pro-abort, by the way) also get their funding cut! In other words, when Development & Peace wants to fund a group which meshes with their Marxist outlook, they won’t be able to do it in most cases because the group in question is also active in promoting abortion. That’s just how the Marxists work. Abortion is a big part of their platform. It always has been. Therefore, no Catholic money can go to the Marxists because the Marxists are for abortion. The orientation and indeed the very essence of Development & Peace is in real danger of being completely transformed! Why do you all suppose that the management of Development & Peace were so dead against admitting the facts? Was it because they were for abortion? Not really. They tolerated it, yes, but that does not mean they were for it. Rather, it was because they were for Marxism and the rest of the avante garde causes of today and they knew that if their critics were successful in making the pro-abort partner charges stick, the jig would be up since no respectable Catholic organization could go on financing abortion pimps. Well, guess what? The jig is finally up, and so is Development & Peace’s number. The other unforeseen benefit is that the re-orientation of Development & Peace’s socialist principles might even have international repercussions, as the CCCB curiously alluded to in their media release: “Among other points made by the Ad Hoc Committee was that Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE (an international alliance of Catholic development agencies) have been following the current CCODP renewal process with considerable interest.” After we are finished with Development & Peace, perhaps it’s time for concerned Catholics to “go international” and start shining the spot light on these international church “social justice” organizations too. The rot, my friends, goes very, very wide and deep indeed.
3. Pro-Life Emphasis Virtually Non-Existent – For the last 40 years, the Catholic bishops of Canada have done very little to promote the culture of life and oppose abortion by name. A perfect of example of this is the fact that their official social justice agency was permitted to dole half a billion dollars without respecting the pro-life ethic. You would think that somewhere during that time, one of our shepherds would have clued in and actually read one of Development & Peace’s annual reports. It would have been more than apparent – or at least bells would have been going off – that something was terribly wrong with this organization after reading one of these reports. The fact that the bells did not sound tells us as much about the bishops as it does about Development & Peace. A major reform and repentance is required.
4. Fidiciary Responsibility of the Bishops - In addition to the scandal of their pro-life witness these past forty years, the bishops of the Canadian Church also have to take responsibility for the gross mismanagment of the fidiciary trust Canadian Catholics placed in them to spend the Lord’s treasury wisely.40 years and a half billion dollars later, we all are wondering just how much of that money went to true social justice and poverty relief and how much of it went to promoting Marxism, Feminism, euphemisms, enviro-worship, and other garbage. We’ll never know exactly where all the money went, and frankly I don’t think we want to know because blood pressures might hit critical mass if we did. While being scandalized at the lack of respect and vigilance for human life is our foremost concern, the squandering of millions of dollars on anti-life, pro-abort thugs is also an epic scandal — not only on where the money went but where it didn’t go.
5. Death by Delegation - While the Catholic Bishops of this country bring the “big heavy” down on Development & Peace, the faithful who know what’s going on in the Church will not permit the bishops to lay all of the blame on D&P. The issue here, of course, is the episcopal penchant to delegate responsibilities (which should rightfully fall on INDIVIDUAL bishops) to church bureaucrats, nefarious committees and dubious conferences which make the decisions for them. And so, when a liberal, homosexual, or laissez-faire bishop gets control of one of these committees, you can kiss that whole pastoral concern goodbye, if you happen to be a Faithful Catholic. Problem with raunchy sex-ed in our schools? “Sorry, the Committee has ruled that every thing’s A-OK. Everyone is fully alive, after all.” Issues with abortion support in our charitable giving? “Bishop X went to Mexico. He says everything is kosher. The accused group’s leader promised him that Catholic money was being well spent on social justice initiatives.” And on and on it goes. We are a Church ruled by these Committees and Conferences. It’s not too far off from being a form of conciliarism, except in this case, it’s the Committee usurping the legitimate role of an individual bishop. It’s a real problem in the Catholic Church and this whole abortion scandal has made it very, very apparent. What the heck is the point of having a bishop if he delegates the most important decisions away to the Central Committee? We might as well be ruled by the Politbüro and the six-figure-paid, liberal bureaucrat who controls it and who really calls the shots.
6. Respect for the Truth - Another major problem with the bishops of this Church is that they prefer to “circle the wagons”, rather than deal with the truth of what is happening. This whole abortion scandal with Development & Peace showed that in spades. The original and constant denials, the slanders, the naivité - at the service of a distorted sense of “unity” and submission to the “club” – left little room for a healthy respect for the truth and the cross and suffering that it would ultimately bring in witnessing to it. Circling the wagons is fine when you are in the truth, but it can be lethal for any organization when truth is denied. The Catholic Lapdog press was also susceptible to this same mentality. What makes the abortion scandal even more shocking is the wide availability of the unassailable and voluminous amount of evidence on the Internet where everyone could see it. And it makes the outright denials by the bishops and their lackies even more bizarre and frightening than it would otherwise have been. “The Elephant in the Room” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
7. The Cyber Church - The bishops need to become accutely aware of how their episcopal ministry can be exercised in the age of the Internet. It is also important for them to realize why prompt and accurate responses are required to address the concerns of the laity. The days when the Church took months and years to deal with administrative issues are now long gone – especially when those issues deal with massive scandal. That’s not acceptable anymore…nor should it be. The bishops don’t need to physically meet to come to a decision on a crisis issue. They can use the technology available to them and get with the program.
8. Communication with Pro-Life Groups - There wasn’t much of it at all. That was a major part of the problem (at least in the later stages of the scandal). Both the CCCB and Development & Peace consistently refused to meet and even communicate with LifeSiteNews, as was reported throughout this whole fiasco. This made things worse as the scandal wore on. For all of the clap-trap and importance the bureaucrats place on ”communications strategy” and communication departments, they really screwed it up big time. In fact, how could it have been any worse? There was absolutely NO EXCUSE whatsoever for either body to refuse to dialogue IF they were operating in the truth…. but then again, the fact that they refused to meet with their critics, only shows everyone how little regard they had for Point #6 above. In the end, it only hurt their own credibility and the trust we should have in them. No “communications strategy” can escape the hard truth. They thought it could. They were wrong. And now they know it.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BISHOPS
The bishops of Canada keep talking about taking on a more active role in pro-life issues. Socon or Bust applauds such an initiative, and is willing to co-operate with any legitimate activity that furthers the respect we owe to unborn life. But we must stress that these sentiments must not remain merely lip service, but must be translated into concrete and immediate action on the part of the bishops to 1) show that they are serious about their declarations and 2) to restore some trust and credibility in their leadership which took a (well deserved) beating during this whole scandal. To help the bishops consider concrete initiatives to that end, therefore, Socon or Bust is presenting 4 simple recommendations to improve the bishop’s leadership in this area:
1) Where is the Money? - If the bishops want to be serious about taking on a leadership role in the pro-life struggle, it takes more than empty platitudes. It takes a lot of money. LOTS OF IT. Actually, it’s not even their money. It’s our money which has been entrusted to them to allocate wisely. Let’s compare the budget of COLF vs. the budget of CCODP. COLF has two staff. Development & Peace has a budget of over $5M in salaries. See the gross and absurd imbalance here? Isn’t it time to bring COLF’s budget into the same universe as CCODP’s? Moreover, Development & Peace has spent over $500 million dollars over the past 40 years, most of it coming from Catholic donations. If the bishops want to be credible in taking a leadership role, they absolutely must allocate significantly more money to fighting for the Culture of Life. It’s that simple. If you think about it, there is the issue of restitution here too. The bishops should commit tens of millions of dollars over the next decade to the Global South for the express purpose of trying to undo the incredible damage inflicted by Development & Peace’s pro-abort partners. Now, that would be true justice.
2) Date of the Plenary Assembly - The bishops of the Canadian Church usually meet once a year at their Plenary Assembly. In Canada, that Assembly occurs every Autumn in Cornwall, Ontario in September or October. This is the only time in the year they all meet in one place at one time. To provide a unified witness to the unborn, they should consider moving the timing of their Assembly in order to participate en masse in the March for Life which occurs every year in mid-May in Ottawa. Now, it is true that some (perhaps many) bishops will choose not to participate, but if given the chance and the convenience, many bishops likely would make the short trek (90 minutes) up from Cornwall for the event while they are in this part of the country. This is a rather small administrative concession to move the date of their Assembly and a modest sacrifice to make travel arrangements. They can even rent a bus which could transport all of them. The American bishops have a much, much higher participation rate than their Canadian counterparts. If the Canadian bishops want to assume a leadership role in the Pro-Life Movement, they have to actually show up to its most important event each year. There will be no leadership position granted to them, if they can’t even bother to make modest sacrifices and changes to their schedules. The Faithful are tired of “no show” bishops.
3) Bishops not Bureaucrats – Part of the problem in the pro-life struggle in the Church is trying to convince the bishops that they are not just “part of the gang” or just another church bureaucrat. You would be surprised at how many of them think they are. The bishops have largely lost their understanding about the consecrated nature of their ministry, especially when it applies to the pro-life struggle. It is not enough to make managerial and administrative decisions which help the pro-life cause. The bishops need to realize that the spiritual component and the spiritual dimension to this fight need their full and complete dedication. One very concrete way of putting this area of their ministry into action is for them to bring back some of that good ol’ time religion and offer indulgences for sacrificial acts in reparation for the destruction of human life. For instance, the Archbishop of Ottawa, in consultation with the other bishops of Canada, should challenge Canadian Catholics to make a “pro-life pilgrimage” to Ottawa during the March for Life, to make the necessary spiritual sacrifices, and add a Plenary indulgence for their commission.
4) Retract the Winnipeg Statement – The major problems we have experienced with Development & Peace have their foundation, as they always do in the Catholic Church, in bad philosophy and theology. In this case, it’s the proportionalistic errors that have been condemned by the papal magisterium.
“But as part of the effort to work out such a rational morality (for this reason it is sometimes called an “autonomous morality” ) there exist false solutions, linked in particular to an inadequate understanding of the object of moral action. Some authors do not take into sufficient consideration the fact that the will is involved in the concrete choices which it makes: these choices are a condition of its moral goodness and its being ordered to the ultimate end of the person. Others are inspired by a notion of freedom which prescinds from the actual conditions of its exercise, from its objective reference to the truth about the good, and from its determination through choices of concrete kinds of behaviour. According to these theories, free will would neither be morally subjected to specific obligations nor shaped by its choices, while nonetheless still remaining responsible for its own acts and for their consequences. This “teleologism”, as a method for discovering the moral norm, can thus be called — according to terminology and approaches imported from different currents of thought — “consequentialism” or “proportionalism”. The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the “greater good” or “lesser evil” actually possible in a particular situation.” (Veritatis Splendor, 75)
In short, defenders of the current orientation of “social justice” have no problem in accepting that their partners accept an intrinsic evil, provided that, in doing so, they are achieving some nebulous success surrounding various other “social justice” issues like climate change, “gender mainstreaming”, mining opposition, or “women’s empowerment”. It is no coincidence that Development & Peace was launched in 1967, only two years before the infamous release of that God-damned Winnipeg Statement, which provided the pastoral justification for partnering with abortion pimps so long as “social justice” was served. The Winnipeg Statement has never been retracted because its proportionalistic philosophy has never been rejected by the Canadian bishops. But it needs to be formally rejected, to put the Canadian Church back on a firm foundation.
SOME CLOSING REMARKS
Throughout this entire, sad episode, we knew that, although it would take some time, the Canadian bishops had to clean up Development and Peace. They had to do it because their gross negligence over the past 40 years resulted in the public spectacle of what that negligence has cost in terms of the desecration and destruction of nascent human life. If they didn’t move against it, their credibility would have been shot, not just on life and family issues but in all pastoral issues. It remains to be seen if the bishops still have clued in as to what is at stake. Socon or Bust hopes that the bishops take the time to reflect on what has transpired, and recognize that this is not merely an “administrative” or even a “pastoral” deficiency on their part, but a profound moral deficiency that they need to correct in their leadership. If they do not accept responsibility for their failure, this “renewal exercise” they have embarked on will have been in vain.
Every scandal has many parties involved in it. The side that does the criticizing also has various players. Some are the moderate voices, calling for change (like LifeSiteNews). They are the “unofficial” official spokepersons for the side. Others like Socon or Bust, play the “bad cop” role, kicking down doors to get the result. There are those who don’t believe that there is a role for our faction in a dispute. Too acrimonious and upsetting and “violent“ for them, you see. But what these “critics of the critics” don’t understand is that, indeed, there is such a thing as just war, even if it only occurs over cyberspace and no one actually dies (unlike, of course, what is happening now in the Global South with the overturning of abortion laws). Does the Good Book not say, after all, that there is ”a time for war and a time for peace”? (Eccl. 3:8). What transpired with Development & Peace was indeed a just war. And in a just war, people get hurt. And if people get hurt, there are people doing the hurting because, after all, sometimes soldiers do need to inflict pain in the face of obstinacy and denial. Socon or Bust played its “rottweiler” role in the abortion drama of the Canadian Church because it was a role which needed to be played, and we don’t make any apologies for it, either. Nevertheless, there is a price to pay for being the bad cop. It’s not all accolades and roses, to be sure. Any future, official involvement with one’s opponent (in this case, the Bishops) becomes problematic at best. Socon or Bust will not likely be able to organize rallies or host conferences with the official endorsement of the bishops, like it has in the past. Socon or Bust, after all, now has the distinction of being unofficially banned from their Assembly. That’s a real price to be paid, but it was a cost that was counted well before this war began. We paid the price and would do it again, considering the stakes of what was happening. We weighed the cost for this controversy, and spent the political and moral capital required. Que sera, sera.
We also need to be cognizant of the great work that LifeSiteNews.com played in this whole controversy. They were the ones who first broke this story and kept on it with the necessary vigilance and tenacity required in order to secure a tacit admission from the bishops. We owe them a great deal of gratitude for staying on this story and making an indelible mark in the history of the pro-life movement and the Church in Canada. Steve and I do this for a hobby. We have our regular jobs. LSN do this as their bread and butter. They have families to support. In light of their success concerning the Development & Peace abortion scandal, please consider sending them a donation as an appreciation of what they have been able to accomplish. If there is an appreciation of our work too, please consider sending them a donation on our behalf.
As for the staff of Development & Peace, we hope that they take this time and reflect on what it means to be Catholic and the absolute necessity of respecting human life. That includes, of course, not financially supporting the abortion pimps in the Global South. For well over a year now, Socon or Bust has been visited by Development & Peace staff each day, several times a day by its two offices in Montreal and Toronto.
We also hope that, as part of their renewal and recycling program, they come to realize that their class/gender warfare ideology which pits those in power against those who have none is wrong-headed. Jesus did not come to overthrow the Roman government and “give power to the people” in some crass political overthrow of the political order which, as He well understood, did not address the substance of the problem which was sin. That is why His agenda was not based on form but on foundation, not on structures but on substance. He sought not to overthrow the powers of this world; He did not seek to overturn the political or economic order and usher in some socialist utopia. He did not seek any of this. Instead, the message of the Gospel is first to convert the hearts of its hearers. Then and only then, can real justice be realized. It is the message of salvation from sins and the social responsibility which derives from that which causes those in power to reform their lives and effect the change everyone is looking for. It is this transformation, based on the forgiveness of sins and salvation of the eternal soul, which actually brings real justice to the poor and marginalized. If political involvement becomes the summit and focus of any Catholic charity, it has lost its reason for existence.
Now that this controversy has subsided somewhat, Socon or Bust will obviously not be covering this scandal as much as it has in the past. Therefore, the staff at Development & Peace don’t need to visit us as often as they have – unless, of course, they are actually learning something or are secret fans of our blog. Socon or Bust will be stepping back from posting on the Development & Peace abortion scandal until several weeks before Lent 2011. At that time, we hope that the “exit strategy” for D&P’s pro-abort partners is in full swing, and there is full public disclosure of it on their website. By Lent, things had better be moving along at a rapid pace. At that time, if the bishops are found to be negligent about following through with their declarations and do not keep their word about reforming Development & Peace as they indicated in their press release, everyone can rest assured that Socon or Bust will break out the war drums again.
Socon or Bust continues to insist that Catholics refrain from donating to Development & Peace until every last pro-abort drop is drained out of it. We have seen how the dog returns to its vomit in the U.S., and it might very well happen here too. We pray that the bishops will be men of Christ and follow through with a determined sobriety to do what they have said they would do. Like anything in life, there are consequences when just expectations are not met.