I am feeling a tad bit rant-y right now…so bear with me.
I just got home from Mass and normally I find Mass to be a blessing and I mean how can it not be. We get to receive Jesus, listen to his words and be with Him in the mystery of the Eucharist.
But today was a whole different ball game. Today I went to a Mass that celebrated the glory and all that was good about Development and Peace. Development and Peace got more intentional mentions than Jesus and that is not how it should be.
The Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops has declared the 5th Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Passiontide, as “Solidarity Sunday” where we are encouraged to remember and support those living in poverty in the Global South. Which is all well and good, I have nothing against alms and charity to help those living in poverty.
What I have issues with is Development and Peace.
The Mass I went today didn’t have a homily. Instead we had a reflection on how amazing D&P is. And an awkward skit thing that involved loves of bread and “making room for people at the human table” …..whatever that means.
During the Prayers of the Faithful where we petition God for things like helping the needy and the sick we were asked to respond to a bunch of petitions about how wonderful D&P is and how much they have helped our global family.
Before the Our Father we were asked to use the time of prayer during the Our Father to discern God’s will in us as to how we are to involve ourselves with D&P.
And, of course, we were asked to donate and donate frequently.
And I got upset.
Development and Peace is a sham. I know they do some really wonderful work but I cannot in good conscience support them because the work they do has a price. And the price is the lives of unborn children.
In February I mentioned D&P to my priest friend (the one I discussed in my post on the NET retreat), and told me that back in 2009 D&P came under fire when it was determined they were supporting groups that facilitate contraception and abortion clinics in impoverished countries. The bishops have investigated and claim that D&P doesn’t do anything in contrary to Catholic teaching.
But, then I learned a few weeks ago that the bishop in my parents’ diocese is refusing to support D&P and it spurred me to do some more research.
And I didn’t have to go far.
In Afghanistan, the D&P partner is a member of the Global Network for Women Peacemakers. Who work closely with the UNFPA and proudly declare their support for abortion access ALL over their website.
In Burundi, the D&P partner Ligue ITEKA is the main contact in Burundi for an organization called Africa 4 Women’s Rights
and, in Cambodia, the D&P partner NGO Cambodia is associated with CEDAW in Cambodia that again, works for access to abortion.
That was enough for me. D&P may not work directly with the organizations that are working for access to abortion but the organizations they partner with are actively working with organizations who do.
We have no way of knowing if the money we donate to D&P is safe or if it makes its way to the other organizations.
And with out that transparency, no Catholic in good conscience should be associating with or donating to Development and Peace and their activities. Not until something fundamentally changes.
So when I go to a Mass that is deifying D&P and all their God work I find it hard to concentrate. I find it really hard to open myself to Jesus, because I can’t get the idea out of my head that if I pray those intentions with them and say those responses I am participating in the problem.
And that clouds my conscience. And it isn’t right.
When we go to Mass the focus shouldn’t be on solidarity with those in poverty and making us feel guilty because we are blessed enough to live in the first world. Mass should be about focussing on Jesus and doing his will in accordance with His teachings and the teachings of His Church, the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world. We don’t need D&P for charity or warm fuzzy feelings. Any time we serve someone in the spirit of Jesus and self giving we can get those feelings. We can find better organizations or we can volunteer in our local communities.
Building strong communities locally build stronger communities globally. Be the Church where you are now, help rebuild your local community in the way God called you. Research before you donate. Never bury your head in the sand because people try to engage your emotions to guilt you into donating.
But remember to be Christ, to do what you do out of love and full of charity.