Joint statement by the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National President of Development and Peace

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has launched its fall action campaign, International Development – Do It Justice. This is an urgent issue. International development assistance should be a priority and concern for all Canadians, especially Catholics.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 192.2, summarizes Catholic teaching on international development assistance by noting that:

there persist in every part of the world stark inequalities between developed and developing countries, inequalities stoked also by various forms of exploitation, oppression and corruption that have a negative influence on the internal and international life of many States. The acceleration of interdependence between persons and peoples needs to be accompanied by equally intense efforts on the ethical-social plane, in order to avoid the dangerous consequences of perpetrating injustice on a global scale.

This fall, Development and Peace invites Catholics and everyone of goodwill to reflect on Canadian international aid, the principles that should guide it, and our expectations of what this aid should be. If our world is indeed a “global village”, then international solidarity is more necessary today than ever before. In his Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, n. 33, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the needs and sufferings of so many millions of people risk causing “unprecedented damage and new divisions within the human family”. Hence, in charity and truth, he invites us all to confront “an altogether new and creative challenge, one that is certainly vast and complex.”

You are aware that changes have been made to the campaign material. Speculation in the media and among some of the membership as to the reasons for the changes has caused considerable anxiety for many. We want to assure you there is no cause for worry. The reason for the change was simple. In a meeting of the CCCB President and General Secretary with the President and Executive Director of Development and Peace, concern was expressed that elements of the original materials could be a source of division among Bishops, priests, parishioners and donors. Lack of unity compromises our Christian witness to justice and charity. These concerns were taken very seriously, and Development and Peace decided to revise its campaign literature.

International development aid needs to be a concern and a priority for our nation and for the world. The fall campaign materials from Development and Peace are intended to encourage personal and group reflection, as well as discussions in parishes and families. The campaign is also an invitation for concerned Catholics and other Canadians to talk with or write to their members of Parliament, to join Development and Peace as active members, and to make a contribution to assist Development and Peace in advancing and promoting integral human development in the Global South. We encourage the Catholic faithful to participate in the campaign in a true spirit of solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Global South.

May Saint Kateri Tekakwitha encourage and inspire us in showing care and concern for all those in need.

+ Richard W. Smith Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ron Breau President of the National Council Development and Peace