In a carefully worded statement, Archbishop Collins of Toronto has pledged his support for Canada’s Development & Peace organization while challenging it to continue it’s renewal and growth. This comes after slanderous accusations that D&P was funding agencies in Mexico that provided abortions. An inquiry by the Canadian Bishops found that this was not accurate. However there was a call for greater cooperation between D&P and the local churches where they fund projects so that there is no conflict.
The Archdiocese of Toronto will continue to send funds to D&P (over a million dollars) as long as these are spent on projects that have the support of the local bishop. One would hope that every Canadian bishop would not have to micro-manage the work of D&P but in this case there is some wisdom in the Archbishop’s decision. The work of D&P must not only support Catholic teaching, but it must avoid even the impression of any scandal.
Having D&P work with the local bishops reflects the Archbishop’s sound ecclesiology. We should not be ecclesiastical colonialists who just parachute funds and projects into a country or region without collaborating with the local church. However, my brief internship in the late 80s at the Religious Task Force on Central America in Washington, DC taught me that sometimes there is a disconnect between the local church, the faithul and their bishop. On more than one occasion I had dealings with or knowledge of bishops who were aligned with military dictatorships or oppressive oligarchies. Will this requirement of D&P to work only with “approved” agencies take away some of it’s prophetic and cutting edge role?
Well, as one of my classmates and current Assistant General of our Order said: “When you are on the cutting edge, you risk getting cut!”
I pray and hope that the Archdiocese of Toronto’s renewed support for D&P as well as the call for renewal will continue it’s legacy of amazing witness of the Canadian Catholics to people around the world.