Caught on Tape, Canadian Bishops

Caught on tape: Canadian bishops-backed group doles out free contraception

ORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 5, 2012 ( – While the U.S. bishops valiantly fight a mandate by the Obama administration forcing people of faith to cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, the Canadian bishops’ international development arm is supporting a Haitian group that has been caught handing out free contraceptives.

Archbishop Richard Smith (L) and Archbishop Paul-André Durocher (R) are guided by APROSIFA coordinator Lody Auguste (centre) through the group’s art exhibit.

The two Archbishops who lead the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) visited the group, called the Association pour la promotion de la santé integrale de la famille (APROSIFA), with leaders from Development & Peace in December as part of a solidarity trip.

Simple web searches reveal that APROSIFA has produced literature on how to obtain abortions and runs a health clinic in a Port-au-Prince shantytown that offers “family planning.”

On February 24, a woman working undercover for LifeSiteNews called the clinic to ask about the possibility of obtaining contraceptives. She told the clinic worker that she is 21 years old and has no children, and the worker informed her that she could come into the clinic from Monday to Friday “for a [family] planning program or for pills.”

Asked if it would cost anything, the worker responded, “No, to the contrary, it is completely free.”

APROSIFA’s work promoting “family planning” is “ground breaking” according to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, one of its funders, because, “family planning is still controversial in some Haitian families” and information about it is “not widely available elsewhere.”

The news comes as Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, the CCCB’s president, and bishops across the country are urging renewed support for D&P as the agency launches its 2012 Share Lent fundraising campaign.

Smith and CCCB vice president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau visited APROSIFA’s art exhibit in Port-au-Prince as part of their Dec. 14-21 solidarity visit to Haiti with D&P leaders, and were guided by APROSIFA’s coordinator, Lody Auguste.

In a February 9th letter citing the Haiti trip, Archbishop Smith called on Catholics “to be as generous as your means allow” in supporting D&P’s Share Lent campaign.

He writes that D&P is “well aware it … must adapt and improve,” and so Catholics can forward concerns about its activities to the CCCB. (Find contact information for the CCCB here.)

Alerted previously to concerns about APROSIFA and the bishops’ visit, CCCB spokesman René Laprise told LifeSiteNews that Archbishops Smith and Durocher “have been pleased with the assurance given to them by local Haitian Diocesan Bishops of the good work being done by the organizations that were visited.”

APROSIFA disseminates a book on “reproductive health” that focuses in part on “unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion,” according to a UN document.

The book, called Gender or sex: who cares?, was originally written by abortion provider Ipas but is made available in Haitian Creole through APROSIFA. It promotes the need to “destigmatize abortion” and “increase access to legal abortion,” and claims that the right to liberty includes freedom from “forced pregnancy.” It includes a quote “from the field” in Zambia explaining that there are cases when illegal abortion could be deemed “medically permissible.”

This image appears in the English version of Where Women Have No Doctor, disseminated by APROSIFA in Haitian Creole.

APROSIFA has also produced a Haitian Creole version of a book called Where Women Have No Doctor, which includes detailed information on obtaining abortions and contraceptives. They did the translation with the support of a $9,500 grant from George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

According to Laprise, after concerns are brought to the CCCB, “If there are, in fact, serious issues to address, these will be brought to the attention of the CCCB Standing Committee for Development and Peace which is in place to deal with just such matters.”

The committee was formed in November 2010 to oversee D&P as part of the bishops’ reform effort in response to a series of reports beginning in March 2009 by LifeSiteNews and Catholic bloggers that documented the pro-abortion advocacy of D&P partners hailing from 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The initial reports in March 2009 sparked an investigation by the CCCB, which cleared D&P but was later called into dispute by one of its authors, and a subsequent attempt to reform D&P, which began in 2010.

Many questioned the reform’s effectiveness in March 2011, however, after Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was forced to cancel a talk at his diocesan centre by Fr. Luis Arriaga, the head of former D&P partner Centre PRODH, which LifeSiteNews had highlighted in its first report on D&P in March 2009. The Jesuit priest refused to sign a statement assuring his belief in the right to life of the unborn, reportedly on the basis that such a stand would be a “violation of basic human rights.”

The controversy was compounded by the fact that D&P’s executive director, Michael Casey, had responded to the talk’s cancellation by sending out an e-mail to supporters that defended Fr. Arriaga for his “inspiring work” and lauded Centre PRODH as “highly respected for its outstanding work in defending the lives of the most vulnerable in Mexican society.”

Despite the controversy, this is now the second year in a row that D&P has carried out its Share Lent campaign while still failing to release a full list of its current partners.

As he took over as president of the CCCB in October, Archbishop Smith told Canadian Catholic News that Catholics who are feeling “panicky and worried” over the D&P situation should “simply trust the bishops and the leadership of Development and Peace to move forward on this.”

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from D&P by press time.