Bishop Pearce Lacey

Bishop Pearce Lacey

The Most Reverend Pearse Lacey, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Toronto, died on April 2 at the age of 97. Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes remembered Lacey as a late-comer to leadership in the pro-life movement, but said once he came on board he was a staunch friend to the cause.

Born in Toronto on November 26, 1916, he was ordained a priest on May 23, 1943, in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto, by then-Archbishop James C. McGuigan.

He served in numerous parishes including St. Patrick’s in Port Colborne, Ont., St. Patrick’s in Mississauga, and St. Cecilia’s, St. Monica’s, St. Piux X, and Transfiguration of Our Lord all in Toronto, was chaplain of St. Michael’s Hospital in the 1950s, and rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral from 1966 through 1979.

He defended Catholic moral teaching as a trustee of the Metropolitan Separate School Board from 1972 to 1974, and served as Chaplain and Director of the Christian Family Movement. He retired as auxiliary bishop in 1993.

In recent years he publicly supported the rights of parents as primary educators of their children when he spoke out against the Ontario government’s so-called equity policy to advance the gay rights agenda, including speaking out at a Toronto Separate School Board meeting in 2011 and issuing a public letter of support to parents and groups engaging the board and Ontario government on the equity legislation.

Hughes knew Bishop Lacey for more than 50 years and of his long-time friend he said: “He was a solid Catholic leader, one of the few in the Catholic hierarchy that you could point to as someone with courage.” Hughes singled out as a particularly courageous moment the time Bishop Lacey apologized publicly to Hughes at a Lift Jesus Higher Rally “for not being the bishop he should have been in the early years.”

Hughes said that once Bishop Lacey joined the pro-life movement, he was a strong ally.

He was actively involved in the first National Marches for Life in the 1990s when no other bishop would say Mass at the annual pro-life demonstration in Ottawa. He would also preside over Mass at pro-life conferences.

In June 1989, Bishop Lacey led a clergy march at the then-illegal Morgentaler abortuary, in which he and 30 other Catholic and Protestant pastors walked with tape over their mouths in support of both the unborn and pro-lifers, the latter who had their civil rights curtailed by limits placed on their free speech and free assembly rights.

The Campaign Life Coalition National News said of Bishop Lacey’s passing, “the pro-life movement is grateful for Bishop Lacey’s friendship and outspokenness.”