The Bishop of Pembroke, Ontario has decided to withhold all funds from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (D&P), the official international aid agency of the Canadian bishops. The move comes after the Archbishop of Ottawa was forced to cancel an event with one of D&P’s partners in April because of the group’s promotion of the decriminalization of abortion.
“Recent developments in the Archdiocese of Ottawa during Lent have demonstrated that a great deal of work needs to be done to allow CCODP to be fully effective,” wrote Bishop Michael Mulhall on July 21st, in a letter distributed in Sunday bulletins throughout his diocese. “For the future, the Diocese will continue to sponsor development and missionary efforts which are identified for you during the Lenten Season.”
In March, before the Ottawa controversy, he had told his faithful that the diocese would continue this approach for 2011, saying that D&P’s difficulties had not been fully resolved. He said he was assured at the Canadian Bishops’ October 2010 plenary meeting that “positive steps” were being taken, but noted that “it would take several years for some of these changes to be implemented throughout the organization.” (Source)
Well, I think Bishop Mulhall (and likely a number of other bishops) are finally starting to see the writing on the wall. His move might signify the ongoing problems within the CCCB to come to a resolution on Development & Peace’s vision. That’s unfortunate, of course. No one wants a rift. But the way to avoid a rift is to be faithful to the Church’s teachings. Rifts happen because (usually) one side is not being faithful to the Gospel. And, in this case, we know which side it is.
I have been saying for quite some time now that it would take many, many years to ”fix” D&P. We’re already approaching our third year of this scandal. In reality, D&P will likely never be reformed because its members refuse to repent of their many and grievous errors. It will eventually just die out…with its membership, while something else takes its place. There’s another question about how the members of Development & Peace got to that point, but that’s an accounting for another day that the bishops and their predecessors will have to face.
Development & Peace will still continue into the forseeable, of course, but in time it will not represent the entire Catholic Church in this country as more and more bishops find the courage to own up to what the pro-life movement has been saying for years and finally cut bait.
This sad episode in Canadian Church history (one of many) should serve as a sobering reminder to all of us Catholics out there who sometimes have a tilted view of who a bishop is. They’re sinners like the rest of us and they’re subject to the same political pressures as anyone else. As lay people, we have a right to insist that they hold fast to the Gospel. And if it’s clear that they’re not doing it, then we need to keep pressing and crying bloody murder until they get the message…come Hell or Highwater. And crying bloody murder in this instance is not too far off the mark, either.
Keep on truckin’, everyone. We’re moving in the right direction.