We, members of Development and Peace (D & P), are saddened by the crisis threatening our organization, a crisis originating in virulent attacks by Catholic groups who call themselves “real Catholics” but who appear to us to be rather sectarian.
We regret — and we are not the only ones — that a certain number of bishops listen too attentively to these groups and yet are deaf to the appeals to solidarity coming from D & P’s partner groups who are fully engaged in the struggle against the structures of injustice and oppression afflicting many peoples in the Global South.
We are really worried for the peoples of the South. In an attempt to satisfy these extremists, D & P decided to oblige each partner to get a letter of support from the local bishop as a condition for financial support from D & P. This risks depriving certain partners of this essential help.
Yet we are aware that these partners are doing exemplary work with these people who, very often still, are suffering from abuse of human rights, violence against women, silencing of citizenship rights. Furthermore, many of these partners work in countries where the Catholic Church is a very small minority, or they are lay movements with no structural link to the church.
We want to remind the bishops here, as well as the political and administrative authorities of D & P, of the existence of “structures of sin” as the Blessed Pope John-Paul II called them. According to him, individual acts cannot be judged in isolation, without taking into consideration the context in which we live — social, local and global.
We hope that the standing committee of bishops, recently created for relations with D & P, fulfil its mandate of consultant, but abstain from intrusion in the internal management of the organization which must keep its full autonomy and democratic functioning, quite neglected of late.
We recall that, since the Second Vatican Council, the collaboration of Catholics with persons or groups who do not share all of our values is possible and indeed desirable in the context of the openness of the church true to the fundamental text which affirms that “The joys and the hopes, the pains and the anguish of the men of our time, especially the poor, and those who suffer, are also the joys and the hopes, the pains and the anguish of the disciples of Christ, and there is nothing truly human that does not echo in their hearts.”
By Constance Vaudrin, Lucille Plourde, Gérard Laverdure, Normand Breault