June 20, 2011

TORONTO — The Canadian funding of a Mexican human rights organization was cut following a letter from the archbishop of Mexico City that directly accuses the Jesuit-founded body of supporting pro-abortion groups.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) cut the funding for Centro PRODH, whose director recently had speaking engagements cancelled in Ottawa and Cornwall, after Mexican Cardinal Norberto Carrera said the organization "does not represent the sentiments of the Church and has been characterized by its support and encouragement of groups and activities that are an affront to Christian values."


"With respect to the theme of defence of life, the organization has supported pro-abortion groups and promoted the purported woman's right over her body, against unborn life," said a translation of the letter obtained by The Catholic Register.

Carrera's letter was sent to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which two years ago cleared Centro PRODH of similar accusations.

Centro PRODH spokeswoman Francesca Allodi-Ross denies the charge, telling The Catholic Register "we have never worked on that issue."

In light of the letter, CCODP had no choice but to end its 10-year funding relationship with Centro PRODH, said executive director Michael Casey. "We couldn't take a position against the highest ranking authority of the Church in Mexico on this ."

The funding cut does not sit well with Jesuit provincial superiors in English and French Canada, who along with the Jesuit provincial in Mexico have issued an open letter defending Centro PRODH and its outgoing director, Jesuit Father Luis Arriaga.

"Father Luis Arriaga and his team deserve our support," said the May 25 letter signed by Father Jim Webb for English Canada, Father Jean-Marc Biron for French Canada and Father Carlos Morfin Otero for Mexico.


The letter puts the provincials at odds with fellow Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, himself a Jesuit, and the CCCB. Prendergast barred Arriaga from speaking in the archdiocese in March amid allegations of the organization's pro-abortion stance.

Before the provincials' letter was issued, francophone CCODP delegates, representing about half of the agency's 12,000 members, voted at regional meetings to recommend restoration of funding to Centro PRODH.