Another Order of Canada recipient is protesting the government’s decision to honor Canada’s “Father of Abortion” with the country’s most prestigious award. In doing so, the Archbishop of Montreal, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte has helped reignite Canada’s abortion debate as the country’s election season draws closer.
Last July, the Order of Canada was given to abortion doctor, Henry Morgentaler, the 85 year-old recognized by some as the leader of the movement that legalized abortion in Canada. Award officials select recipients of the honor based on the contributions the individual has made to the country.
Abortion and pro-life activists have clashed since the decision to award Morgentaler was made. Abortion supporters praise Morgentaler for “advancing women’s rights,” while pro-life groups have adamantly disagreed.
The Catholic bishops of Canada released a statement saying that Morgentaler’s selection “discredits the Order of Canada” by decorating a man who has “attacked the most vulnerable, the unborn.”
Others, such as Susanna Stubbs of Madonna House and Father Lucien Larre have given their Order of Canada medals back to the Canadian government in protest of Morgentaler’s decoration.
Yesterday Cardinal Turcotte followed their lead by returning the award received in 1996. According to the Associated Press, the prelate stated that he had hoped that the government officials would reconsider their selection, however, since they have not, he felt “obliged in conscience to reaffirm my convictions regarding the respect for human life, from conception to death."
On Thursday at a Catholic conference near Quebec City, Cardinal Turcotte stated that he needed to surrender his 1996 award or his silence could be misinterpreted.
He also compared abortion to war, explaining that no one has the right to take the life of another, the Calgary Herald reports.
"We are not the masters of human life; it rests in the hands of God," he said.
He also appealed to Canadians to consider the issue abortion during their election season and called for a “serious” and “profound” debate on this issue.
"I am appealing to people's conscience. They have to take a position on this and vote according to the position of the different parties.”
“This issue is not settled definitely and the debate that this decision (honoring Morgentaler) has sparked shows that there is not a consensus on abortion in Canada," he stated.
The Cardinal of Quebec City has also spoken against Morgentaler’s award saying that he should not be revered as a hero of Canadians.
"What he stands for deeply offends and infuriates many people. So, I think, there's a limit and we have to protest and voice our opposition," he said.