As reported by John yesterday, three former executives of Development and Peace (D&P) have come out with public statements of rebellion against the bishops’ plans to exert greater control over the dissenting organization.
As I skimmed through one of the statements (backup link here), I realized that pro-life laity and bishops have accomplished virtually nothing in the last two years. Why? Because the entire D&P crisis that we’ve been experiencing already happened back in the 1970s and 1980s. Reforms were implemented back then, too. And look where it got us today. The key takeaway is that we haven’t won the war yet. Not even close.
Back in the 1970s, the accusations related to D&P’s alleged involvement in funding armed groups in the Global South and espousing marxist ideologies.
Just like today, concerns were raised by pro-life Catholics.
Just like today, those Catholics boycotted D&P and pressured the Canadian bishops to fix the problem.
Just like today, some bishops were attentive and pressed for reforms to D&P.
Just like today, an investigation was conducted that whitewashed D&P of wrongdoing.
Just like today, the bishops felt the need to reform D&P anyways (suggesting that they didn’t swallow their own whitewash). D&P’s constitution was revised to more explicitly express the Catholic character of the organization. The bishops implemented greater controls and oversight of D&P’s behaviour.
But as we see with the renewed crisis today, that whole process didn’t work out too well. I don’t know if any problems were fixed. If they were, it didn’t last.
The lesson for us today is this: even though it looks like the bishops are making (slow) progress in reforming D&P, we haven’t really accomplished anything yet. Until we get confirmation that all 52 anti-life organizations have been defunded, we cannot claim victory. We cannot let up one inch.
The former D&P executive that wrote this article did flag four key differences between then and now. He sees them as bad news, but that means good news for us (my comments in red):
A greater number of bishops appear to share in LifeSiteNews’ accusations and are prepared to take more draconian measures against Development and Peace, (the old generation of dissenting bishops is slowly disappearing)
Some Development and Peace members, including some in positions of authority, share LifeSiteNews’ perspective, (that’s the power of the Internet, where all the undeniable evidence is at your fingertips)
The centralization of the debate and dialogue at the top of the hierarchy within Development and Peace and we are told the effective silencing of staff,
The lack of vigour that Development and Peace seems prepared to lend to its defence of the organization’s mission, autonomy, and practices. (perhaps they don’t see much point in resisting, having been caught red-handed and publicly exposed on the web for the whole world to see) (Source)
These are certainly encouraging points, but let’s not chant victory too soon. Perhaps the real problem back then was that too many bishops hadn’t repented of their dissent of Humane Vitae. D&P relapsed because the hearts of too many bishops were not changed. How can dissenters police other dissenters? The faithful bishops won’t always prevail during those Plenary meetings. No amount of bureaucrat-ese, oversight and committees can fix a lack of will.
So please pray for the bishops. Remember that all the activism in the world remains fruitless and powerless without God’s mighty intervention. God will prevail in the end, but it’s no time to let up.