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CCODP: new director, new directions?

Ottawa--The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), the international development aid branch of Canada's bishops, has a new director. He is Robert Letendre, a former civil servant whose main previous postings have been in Foreign Affairs. He was appointed on April 7.

With the new director, CCODP is investigating some new directions. According to English section education director, Mary Corkery, "We're not close to being representative of the Church."

They are actively seeking "people of the South" as members, in line with the vast numbers of immigrants and refugees from Asia, Africa, and Latin America who have come to Canada during the past 30 years. The organization realizes it requires the support of ordinary Catholics to fulfil its mandate, which goes beyond emergency aid or parish and community development and education. Many CCODP councils in parishes across the country are dormant or exist on paper only. Members are older and the organization currently holds little attraction for young people.

CCODP's isolation from the general faithful became even clearer last year when its donation of $130,000 to the World March of Women raised a chorus of protests. New initiatives include CCODP joining the international Catholic aid agency, Caritas International, which concentrates chiefly on disaster relief. CCODP has also linked up with a new interfaith social action group named Kairos, as of August 2001. This group replaces the old system of eleven interchurch coalitions which ran into financial problems over the past years, not least because of their backing of leftist causes.

The CCODP, however, will retain its close connection with CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). Since 1967, it has received $375 million from the federal agency. CIDA, in turn, retains its connection with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and will continue to follow its pro-abortion, anti-life policies of the past. A recent CIDA project, for example, provided $2 million to UNEPA to implement a "sexual and reproductive health" program in Guatemala. This is the code expression for anti-life programs.

One consequence of this cooperation with CIDA is the stipulation the CCODP can never use matching grants for funding Catholic projects. In other words, the Canadian bishops' aid agency remains entirely secular.

Comment:

Whether these proposed changes will prove more than superficial remains to be seen. The key issue goes right back to the original founding in 1968. when the Bishops' Conference decided to concentrate solely on material aid for Third World countries, believing that this was the most urgent of tasks. Needless to say, the poor find praying on empty stomachs a virtual imposibility and, therefore, material help is a necessity.

Still, should the purpose of Catholic giving not be reexamined after 33 years? As taxpayers we all contribute to Canadian aid for earthquakes and famines already. But as Catholics we also have another duty. The Pope summed it up last year, on October 7, when he addressed 1500 bishops, saying: "announcing the Gospel is the highest act of love. "As it is now, CCODP provides food and blankets, but nothing for collapsed church buildings or ruined apostolic works.
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Title Annotation:Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace director Robert Letendre
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:512
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