Sister Margaret Smith, a Catholic nun who was awarded the Order of Canada for working to bring health care programs to northern Canada, has said she may return the decoration to protest the granting of the medal to abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler. If she returns her medal, she will become the fourth honoree to return the Order of Canada in the wake of the bestowal of the award on Morgentaler, who played a major role in the legalization of abortion in Canada.
Sister Smith said she was “profoundly shocked and saddened” to hear that Morgentaler had been honored with the same award, the Canadian Press reports.
Following the Governor General’s July 1 announcement of Morgentaler’s decoration, others have returned their Order of Canada medals.
Father Lucien Larre, a priest in Coquitlam, British Columbia who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983 for founding Bosco Houses for troubled adolescents, said last week he was “compelled in conscience to return my Order of Canada to Ottawa.”
Recipients of the honor “should be an inspiration to most Canadians,” he said, but elevating Morgentaler to the Order of Canada “degrades” the award for those who believe in the sanctity of human life.
Members of Madonna House, an Ontario Catholic organization founded by Servant of God Catherine Doherty, returned the Madonna House founder’s Order of Canada medal on Tuesday.
“Dr. Morgentaler is a very public and symbolic figure. We were moved in conscience to make a public gesture of disappointment and sadness for our country," said Susanne Stubbs of Madonna House.
The Directors General of Madonna House explained their decision in a letter, writing:
“Catherine Doherty would not have judged Henry Morgentaler, nor should we. Like all of us, he is a poor person. Has he not been surrounded by death all his life? Yet we have to protest … simply, peacefully, unremittingly and with the tools we have at hand … the serious misdirection our country and many of its leaders, in our view, appear to be taking, as exemplified by the award and glowing citation given him for his misguided work. Catherine Doherty would shout, ‘Wait. Don’t you see where we are going? There is another way. I’ll show it to you.’ With this act of returning the Order of Canada we are choosing to place truth before honors.”
The most recent person to renounce their membership in the Order is the former Lt. Governor of New Brunswick, Gilbert Finn. "I've sent a note to the prime minister and to the Governor General saying that since Dr. Morgentaler is now a member of the order, I'm returning my insignia and no longer want to be part of the order," Finn told Radio-Canada in French.