Message from the new President of Development and Peace

December 14, 2012
by 
Pat Kennedy, President, Development and Peace

Dear members and friends of Development and Peace,

It has been over a week now since I was elected by acclamation as the President of Development and Peace. I would like to thank the members of National Council for their vote of confidence. I am confident that through the strength of our faith and working together in a spirit of love and hope, we ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

A newly expanded National Council Executive Committee will help ensure voices from across the country are heard between the three meetings of National Council. I think the new members of the Executive Committee represent the diversity and strength of National Council members. I welcome to the Executive Committee:
Vice-President: Ariane Collin (Francophone Youth Member); Treasurer: Wambui Kipusi (Ontario Member);
Secretary: Ray Temmerman (Manitoba Member); and,
New at-large members-elect (subject to approval of proposed amended by-laws): Dick Mynen (British Columbia), Robert Thomson (Ontario), and Gilles Halley (New Brunswick).

Until the new proposed amendments to the by-laws are approved, Bishop Richard Grecco also remains on the Executive Committee as the representative of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

It is perhaps and understatement to say that there are many challenges facing our organization and movement. As an organization we find ourselves going through a major transformation. Members and employees are in a period of transition from old to new.

As a movement, questions are being raised about the direction Development and Peace is taking, whether or not we are remaining true to our founding principles and values, and how do we understand and carry out our Catholic identity in relationship to our Bishops and the Church. Public criticisms are being made internally and externally on a variety of issues. These challenges and questions have been heard and they need our attention sooner rather than later.

At our recent meeting, by way of a resolution, National Council members affirmed a strong advocacy role as an important element of our In-Canada programs, and as a key need that has been expressed many times by many of our partners in the global south.

Many of our partners tell us that our education work in Canada and our advocacy for social justice on their behalf is as important, if not more important and significant, than the funding we provide to their programs and projects. The resolution called for our Standing Liaison Committee to the CCCB to propose a statement affirming our dual mandate, our Catholic and lay identity and our commitment to advocacy, our southern partners and our collaboration with the Canadian Catholic bishops. It is worth noting that during our recent discussion with Archbishop Richard Smith, President of the CCCB, he reaffirmed the importance of advocacy in Development and Peace’s mission and mandate.

Recognizing this is a significant time of transformation and transition for Development and Peace, National Council members also discussed the possibility of having an national reflection process to allow members and other stakeholders an opportunity to reflect on the future of the organization and movement. This idea was tabled for further discussion at our March 2013 meeting. We would welcome your comments on this idea.

National Council also passed a resolution calling for an immediate and organized advocacy action in response to the position on international aid put forward in a recent speech by the Minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Staff are currently working on its development and we will update you as the initiative and action evolves.

Thank you for your interest in reading this message and for visiting the Development and Peace website. I would hope to use the medium of this blog for the sharing of ideas and reflections, and for ongoing dialogue with members and others. A dialogue that I hope is formed by a spirit of mutual respect.

As we prepare for Christmas, may we be strengthened by our Advent reflections, prayers, and Eucharistic celebrations. Please keep Development and Peace, our partners, members, employees, our bishops and priests in your prayers.

I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Blessed Christmas with your loved ones.

In peace, solidarity, and faith,

Pat Kennedy
President
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace