Friday, 14 October 2011

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE A history of tensions between the Bishops/CCCB and D&P

The crisis that is currently affecting DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE in which LifeSiteNews plays a central role did not begin in 2009 but in 2000 with the World March of Women (WMW). In addition, ­almost from its inception‐DEVELOPMENT AND  PEACE has lived through a number of other crises, which while the triggers may have varied focused on essentially the same issues.

1. The 1970s and 1980s
1.1 By the second half of the 1970s DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE was already facing violent accusations that risked souring its relationship with the Canadian Episcopacy. The conflict focused on two closely related charges:

      a)DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s alleged financial and political support to armed groups in the South

        b) DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE staffs’ supposed infiltration by a group of militant Marxists.
The accusations originated with an extreme right group (Tradition, Family, Property ‐TFP), which was founded in Brazil in 1960 and maintained one or several Canadian chapters. TFP defined itself as a militant international organization of Catholics in defence of traditional Christian values against the atheistic, immoral and socialist cultural revolution and against the spread of socialist communism that was threatening Christian civilization throughout the World. Around 1978‐79, the Quebec branch of TFP published its Red Book, a pamphlet the title of which approximated “DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE: a Crypto‐Communist organization”. TFP members organized a media campaign against DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE timed for immediately before and into the Lenten campaign. They alerted the CCCB to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s supposed deviance and distributed their pamphlet on church steps on Share Lent Sunday. Their campaign was intended to convince the CCCB to withdraw its support from DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and to have parishes across the country boycott the campaign.
Earlier in the 1970s, the English Sector of the organization had been subjected to similar attacks denouncing Development and Peace on the door steps of parishes, particularly in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
The recent LifeSiteNews attack uses essentially the same strategy.
1.2 A number of bishops, particularly Archbishop G. Emmett Carter, of Toronto listened to the critics and convinced the CCCB to intervene. He expressed his doubts about DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s fidelity to the social teachings of the Church, to the point of questioning the faith and morals of a sizeable portion of the staff; another high profile bishop ‐a defender of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE – nonetheless declared that it was important to refuse “to attach the locomotive of D&P to the Marxist Leninist train”. Having called for a review of the organization’s theological stance and educational practices, a major study was undertaken by an expert group in Toronto. The resulting report came to the conclusion that the accusations were ill founded and that DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s educational materials and practices did not transgress the faith or morals of the Church, or its social teachings, quite the opposite in fact.
Then as today, a CCCB investigation cleared DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE of any suspicion.
1.3 Despite this, the CCCB pressed for a revision of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s constitution to more explicitly express the Catholic character of the organization, the need for members to adhere to the Gospel as interpreted by the Catholic Bishops, and the requirement to consult Diocesan Bishops on nominations for election to the organization’s National Council. In addition, Development and Peace’s National Council took a number of decisions in this regard at a particularly stormy Council meeting in Newfoundland in 1982, the two most significant being the decisions:
      a)  To expand DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s membership to ensure that the organization could not be  infiltrated  by any  groups, and 
      b)  To publish the Basic Principles and Orientations pamphlet, this would become the   principal  guidebook and practically a charter for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE followed up on the decision to expand the membership by conducting an in depth sociological survey on the existing membership and mounted a serious membership recruitment drive that also gave increased responsibility to the membership. In 5 years time, the active membership grew to 3,000 “active” members, a number that has been maintained to this very day, even if general membership stands at over 12,000. In this same period, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE began to define itself as both an organization / institution, and as a democratic movement.
The actions and attitude of the CCCB at the time speaks to three realities:
  • The timidity of most of the bishops in face of accusations by extreme rightwing groups, and their tendency to adopt unjustified control measures in the hope of quieting critics,
  •   The bishops’ tendency to allow the position of a few bishops that basically distrusted DEVELOPMENT  AND PEACE to prevail, and
  • The temptation of a certain number of bishops to retreat from the ecclesiology of Vatican II and its   social justice perspective.
The reaction of today’s bishops to LifeSiteNews’ accusations is no different than that of the 1970s.

2. The 1980s
Another crisis in the relationship between DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and the CCCB broke out in the 1980s, this time around DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s (anti) militarization campaign. This education/action campaign, which presented the notion of war and the arms trade as an obstacle to development, was based on the 1967 encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, which promoted world peace based on the development of peoples, and particularly on the eradication of poverty and not on arms. In his encyclical, Pope Paul VI carried on from the Vatican Council that had expressly asked that he issue an encyclical furthering the Council’s perspective and detailing appropriate actions to put Vatican II into practice. Paul VI summarized his thoughts in the pithy expression “development is the new name for peace”, from which DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE took its name.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s anti‐militarization campaign sparked considerable unease within the Church and with the government. While less acute, this crisis was no less real than those that preceded it. After the discussions with the CCCB on the questions involved, no remedial actions were proposed. However, the Military Vicariate and a few other dioceses did boycott Share Lent for some time. On a separate front, the education/action campaign on militarization did strain the relationship between DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and CIDA, which threatened to cut a part of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s funding, but which in the end limited itself to insisting that CIDA money not be used to produce educational materials, and demanding that this be clearly indicated in the materials themselves.
3. The 2000s
LifeSiteNews launched its first attacks against DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE in 2000 around the organization’s support of the World March of Women. LifeSiteNews accused DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE of supporting the right to abortion and groups in the South that support the right to abortion. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE explained very clearly that the official policy positions of the World March of Women did not include the right to “free choice”, or the right to “reproductive health”, as these two issues that had been relegated to a separate document, which was not part of the official Declaration of the World March of Women. The separate document only enjoyed the support of the groups that had explicitly chosen to sign it. We were equally happy to point out that the World March of Women’s position on the matter was in part due to the influence of Christian groups like DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, which among others had a representative on the World March of Women Coordinating Committee, or to refer to the example of the Vatican in its relationship to the United Nations, where signed agreements include a list of the clauses that the Vatican does not support. Nothing helped. As in earlier cases, LifeSiteNews persevered with its accusations and carried its attacks into Share Lent with the intent of encouraging parishes and dioceses to boycott DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE.
Several Bishops, particularly those in Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton, shared LifeSiteNews’ position. Quite aside from the goals, strategies and issues being pursued, or the actual actions being taken, they argued that when DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE agreed to sit at the same table as pro‐choice organizations, or any other groups that shared these same views, it was condoning, and at least indirectly supporting, the right to abortion (i.e. guilt by association). More fundamentally, some even insinuated that one should not be surprised that DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE would take its distance from the Church’s teaching on life and procreation. At the same time, other bishops took public positions in support of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s involvement in the World March of Women from the perspective of the Church’s declared intent to be the Church in the world, which by definition demands involvement in the melee and in certain circumstances and under certain conditions interaction with groups whose positions the Church does not share. They expressed their confidence in DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s ability for discernment and transparency in such relationships. The CCCB did not intervene against DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and the organization could count on the support of the majority of the bishops. However, several dioceses held back Share Lent returns, which they eventually remitted to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, even if the Archdiocese of Toronto did cut its contribution by several hundred thousand dollars.

4. 2010‐2011
The current crisis is fundamentally no different from that of 2000 except in its duration. Relentless in its campaign to discredit Development and Peace, LifeSiteNews has continued its pursuit of the organization’s Southern projects and Canadian education campaigns in an effort to turn up anything that could be misconstrued to create the impression that the organization supports the right to abortion in any way. It is abundantly clear that nothing short of its dismemberment, or the abandonment of the social justice principles incorporated into Development and Peace’s mandate, will satisfy LifeSiteNews.
The latest 2009‐2010 crisis also follows the same trajectory as those of the 1970s and 1980s.
Shaken by the accusations of LifeSiteNews, the CCCB launched its investigation and specifically delegated a fact finding mission to Mexico to examine suspect DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE projects first hand. The mission’s report concluded that LifeSiteNews’ charges were unfounded, but invited DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE to exercise greater caution in its involvements.
However, this did not satisfy LifeSiteNews, or reassure all of the bishops. Among other things, LifeSiteNews accused the delegation to Mexico of having been infiltrated by DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and proclaimed that the report lacked honesty and truthfulness. In short, having already assumed DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s guilt as a matter of principle, nothing would change its view.
Four major features distinguish the current crisis from that of the 2000s:
     A greater number of bishops appear to share in LifeSiteNews’ accusations and are prepared to take more draconian measures against DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE,
     Some DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE members, including some in positions of authority, share LifeSiteNews’ perspective,
     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.
As it is assumed to be guilty, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is in effect defenceless in face of these attacks and accusations. As anyone knows, where one can demonstrate that he or she is not guilty of a specific charge, one can never satisfactorily demonstrate that he or she is not guilty of any and all charges that might theoretically be mounted against the person. This is why Western justice systems rely on the presumption of innocence, a presumption that LifeSiteNews and some bishops refuse to allow DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE.
Finally, the CCCB, or its Secretariat, adopted essentially the same response as it did in the 1970s and 1980s that is the instigation of tighter controls over DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE despite the fact that the report cleared DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE of all suspicions. These measures center on:
     The need to have projects DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE intends to support approved by Southern bishops,
     Establishing DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE oversight and control mechanisms within the CCCB itself. What is more, these measures appear to further the Vatican’s intentions with respect to the group of Catholic “charitable” organizations in the world that it intends to rein into a pre‐Vatican II model of Church.

5. The profound issues underlying these crises
5.1 The partial history of the crises and tensions between DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, extreme right‐wing groups, and the episcopate illustrates the enduring nature of certain of the concerns related to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE:
    from the very beginning of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and throughout its history there have been tensions with the CCCB, or with certain bishops able to influence the Conference, tensions that at times have taken on the dimensions of serious crises;

     almost all of these crises follow the same pattern:
  • attacks/accusations by the political and/or Christian right;
  • a sympathetic opening to such accusations and preparedness to lend credit  and legitimacy  to them on the part of certain bishops and these bishops’ utilization of the situation as a pretext to call DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE into question
  • the CCCB's unease with conflict and/or desire to calm turmoil;
  • investigations exonerating DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
  • despite all, the CCCB's adoption of measures to increase Episcopal controls over DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, asures which by their very nature erode the open, democratic and commitment model of Church institution (DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE), which was created in the wake and spirit of Vatican II.
5.2 Clearly, these crises have arisen around specific issues to which the episcopate is particularly sensitive, i.e. armed struggle, socialism, women's rights, abortion. However, it would be unwise to limit oneself to this first level of analysis. The permanent tensions–and thus the resulting crises‐conceal insights and paradoxes that can only be understood by going deeper. These can be regrouped into three categories:
a)    A vision of the world, of the Church and of the relationship between the two, particularly:
     The concrete demands of a vision of the Church as the “people of God” ­DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE was specifically conceived of as a project of the entire people of God, and as an opportunity for the involvement of the entire community of God’s people; the composition of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's membership clearly illustrates these principles. The announcement that the CCCB wants to re‐examine DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's Constitution to eliminate the two National Council positions filled by bishops, combined with the additional control measures already implemented, or foreseen, signals the  death of this vision of the Church as the People of God;

     The theology of the Signs of the Time (introduced by John XXIII, embraced by Vatican II, and fine‐tuned in the follow‐up dialogue between Paul VI and Cardinal Roy, as the President of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Commission), according to which "social movements" are animated by the Spirit and mark the pathway to the Kingdom;
     the exercise of Church authority exemplified in the creation of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and in giving it its mission and structures that signalled that the CCCB wanted to distance itself from the traditional model, is today very much in question, not only in Canada but throughout the entire Catholic Church.
b)    The demands of the professional involvement and commitment of Christians in development, rights and justice work, beyond but not excluding the witness of charity, and the pedagogy of engagement at the heart of the melee, at the side of community groups, unions etc. once advocated by the CCCB stands threatened.
c)    One can no longer be silent on the role of the laity and on the relationships between the laity and the episcopate, as we just said DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE was and remains an occasion for the involvement of the entire people of God, but we must also recognize that having almost always assumed the role of President and always the position of Executive Director, lay people have played and must continue to play a very important and crucial role. While the use of funding to rein in an organization is not new, it may be useful to point out that DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE was in effect the preferred venue for the involvement of lay Catholic Action leaders, whose funding was almost totally abolished by the bishops during the “Catholic Action crisis” of the 1960s. This fact is obvious in the listing of the many leaders that came to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE out of the Catholic Action movements, i.e. Maione, Tremblay, Champagne, Gauthier, Johnston, Flynn, etc. to people the organization’s initial years.
Is the CCCB prepared to engage in an open dialogue with DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE on the issues involved, rather than opting for unilateral action? Is DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE prepared to truly “engage in dialogue” with the bishops, rather than accepting its demise too quickly?
Fabien Leboeuf Executive Director from 1996‐2001
September 9, 2011

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