Oblate province returns Orders of Canada to protest Morgentaler award

  • December 8, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - In a protest against the award of the Order of Canada to abortion doctor Henry Morgentaler, a community of priests has returned its orders given to two well-known colleagues.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate — Assumption Province announced Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, that they were returning the awards given to Frs. Anthony Sylla and Michael Smith.

The two men, now dead, had received the awards in recognition of pioneering work they had done in Canada. Sylla devoted his life to supporting immigrants to the Canadian Prairies and documenting their lives through photographs. Smith is known for his work supporting seniors, families and married couples as well as spearheading the founding of the largest parish-based credit union in North America.

“Both of these priests were outspoken in their commitment to the inviolable dignity of the human person from the time of conception to natural death,” said Assumption Province Superior Fr. Janusz Blazejak in a news release.

“They would have been the first to acknowledge that their commitment to their fellow man outweighed the need for membership in an order that did not hold to the ideals to which they committed their lives.”

On July 1, Governor General Michaelle Jean announced that Morgentaler would receive the Order of Canada for his work in expanding abortions in Canada. After years of fighting in courts, Morgentaler was victorious in overturning Canada's legal restrictions on abortion in a Supreme Court decision released in 1988. Since then, Canada has become of the few countries in the world to have no legal restrictions on abortion.

The announcement drew widespread protests across the country from those who believe in the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception until death. Several previous recipients of the order, including Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, returned their medals to the Governor General.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto issued two public laments about the Morgentaler award, calling upon Catholics to pray for Morgentaler and to go to greater effort to help those facing an unwanted pregnancy.

The Oblates have played a key part in Canada's history, helping to settle the West and serving pioneer communities and First Nations. The Assumption Province is based in Toronto.

“We hope that this gesture is understood as a sign of astonishment and outrage at the exploitation of the Order of Canada in the interests of an ideology of death, division and indignity which has resulted in the clinical murder of over 110,000 Canadians every year who never had the chance to deserve a better country,” said the provincial superior.

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