Are Canadian Catholics Unwittingly Funding Abortion in Latin America?

In May, representatives from Canadian Catholic Organization of Development & Peace (D&P), a charitable organization funded by the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, visited Mexico. Their purpose? To tour some of the Latin American organizations that D&P assists with money it received from the Canadian Catholic faithful.

The trouble is all of these organizations support abortion.

In a May 28 letter, Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren, President of the Family, Childhood and Life Commission of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, requested that the Canadian bishops cease funding pro-abortion groups in Peru via the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development & Peace (D&P).

In a letter addressed to the Most Rev. V. James Weisgerber, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Eguren expressed fraternal concern about the Canadian Bishops’ “investigation,” announced some weeks ago.

“We have been following up the efforts of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops,” he said, “in order to clarify some troubling information concerning the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development & Peace (CCODP)’s funding activities of pro-abortion groups in Latin America.”

Carlos Polo, a Member of the Family Commission of the Peruvian Bishops Conference and also the Latin American Director of the Population Research Institute, was a one of the staff of professionals called upon by this Commission to research the topic.

“As soon as the investigation of possible financing of pro-abortion NGOs with Canadian Catholic money was announced,” said Polo, “we began our own in-depth investigation. We did so because these issues are not only of concern to the Church in Canada but to the Universal Church.”

“The result of our investigation leaves no doubt that the generous donations of Canadian Catholics go to organizations that explicitly fight against what the Church teaches. In Peru, the organizations funded by CCODP oppose church teaching on the life issues. Their leaders are often our adversaries in debates and public discussions on issues such as abortion, sterilization and contraception.”

Archbishop Eguren’s letter expicitly mentions three problematic organizations:

  1. CNR – Coordinadora Nacional de Radio (National Community Radio Coordinating Agency)
  2. GRESP – Groupe Réseau d’économie solidaire au Pérou (The Peruvian Economic Solidarity Network) Grupo Red de economía solidaria en el Perú.
  3. FEMOCCPALC (Federación de las mujeres organizadas en centrales de cocinas populares).

“Each group either explicitly endorses abortion, and/or contraception, either by name or by its various euphemisms like ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ or some derivation thereof,” says the letter. “In that sense, we respectfully would like to formally request that the funding for the pro-abortion groups in Peru by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace be halted.”

The Peruvian Bishops conference concluded their letter by offering to help the Canadian Bishops find “worthy Catholic organizations involved in authentic development projects in Peru, as our nation could benefit greatly from the generosity of Canadian Catholics.”

The President of the Canadian Bishop’s Conference has not yet responded to Archbishop Eguren’s letter. At the same time, some people claiming to represent the Candaian bishops have been calling the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference to complain about it. These callers claim that the letter was not sent through the proper channels, that the Peruvian Archbishop responsible for the Life issues cannot so communicate with the President of the Canadian Bishops Conference.

In other words, instead of dealing with the substance of a legitimate complaint, some who claim to represent the Canadian Bishops Conference are instead engaging in legalistic quibbling and bureaucratic maneuvering.

Archbishop Eguren has rightly called certain abuses to the attention of the Candian episcopate. It is now their responsibility, not that of low level staffers who may only be covering up their past errors, to address these serious questions.

As Carlos Polo remarks, “The abortion and birth control industries are doing grievous damage to Christian values and the Christian family in Latin America. There isn’t a single Episcopal Conference in Latin America that is not suffering repeated attacks from secular forces for defending life and family. It would be a tragedy if Catholic organizations from Canada or anywhere else in the developed world joined in this attack on their own Church’s teachings and their fellow believers.”

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  • DRF

    Sexual and reproductive rights are a huge issue in Latin America and it’s good to see Catholics addressing them like the human rights issues that they are. It does not surprise me that general-human-rights organizations support access to birth control, abortion and other necessary women’s and reproductive health resources. It would be cruel not to.

    That being said, they should be clear that they support access to birth control and abortion. There are plenty of people who will support them despite or even because of this.

  • rakeys

    Abortion is not a “necessary” women’s reproductive health resource.It does make life a little easier. The best birth control is abstinence. President Bush’s ABC policy of Abstinence, Be faithful in marriage, and Condom as a last resort in married relationships, has drasticaly reduced the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, one of the African countries that really tried to follow it.
    Mother Teresa has taught the women of Calcutta to succesfully use NFP. No one really seems to want to address the cause of unwanted pregnancy, which is having sex in an uncommitted relationhip.
    Catholic money can definitely go to organizations that promote committed relationhips and help women with their economic needs, like Birthright and Our Lady’s Inn. The availibilty of abortion only makes the situation of women worse, since men know they can have sex,then have the woman get an abortion, with tax dollars and with no responsibilty involved. Only the woman suffers.

  • caoimhin


    If morality is something we can only determine subjectively for ourselves –which is the justification for things like abortion or gay rights– then what objective basis do you have for appealing to concepts such as “rights” or “cruelty”? It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it too.

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  • goral

    The first poster on this article is not going through the proper channels.
    That comment should have gone to and through PP where it would find sympathy and acceptance. CCODP would also be a good venue.
    Not here PTL.