Awarding the Order of Canada to Dr Henry Morgentaler

Friday, October 10 2008

In his opening report to the Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Canada, which met 22-26 September 2008, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), made the following comment on the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr Henry Morgentaler:

“This summer, there was the regrettable decision to award Dr Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada, with the problematic involvement, one way or another, by the Governor General and also the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The CCCB issued a statement of dismay in July; earlier this [September], Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, supported by the Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops, announced he was returning his Order of Canada medal. Evidently, this whole question continues to have important repercussions for the Church and Canadian society, since the Order of Canada in this case appears to be an award for abortion, giving it social approval, social endorsement and social standing….

“… For Catholics, such issues are not some sort of secondary option, for the simple reason that we consider human life to be the most basic of human rights (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 155). Obviously, we Bishops, as teachers and witnesses of faith, have a tremendous challenge before us. Not only do we need to ensure that a principled response is given to such questions, we also must encourage all the faithful to be better informed, more active and more articulate in protecting and defending the sacredness of human life and the inviolability of conscience.”

The full text of the President’s report to the Plenary is found at

The earlier CCCB statement on the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler is found at content/view/2602/1217/