On June 18, the Catholic Civil Rights League bestowed their Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life to professor and pro-life activist Donald DeMarco, a long-time contributor to The Interim.
Gwen Landolt, last year’s winner of the award, introduced DeMarco, calling the retired St. Jerome’s College philosophy professor and prolific author, a “voice for life and faith in an increasingly hostile world.” Noting the teacher has five children and 12 grandchildren she called DeMarco “an example of a life well lived” in “faith, truth, and honour.”
During his acceptance remarks, DeMarco said he was honoured and humbled to receive an award named after a man he knew. He also read a poem he wrote decades earlier inspired by Landolt when she was pregnant and they appeared on a panel together.
DeMarco also said the CCRL was, “watching over what goes wrong and speaking out, like Thomas Aquinas, both intellectually modest and audacious.”
Past winners of the Archbishop Adam Exner award include Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes, retired Catholic Insight editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk, and novelist Michael O’Brien.
League president Phil Horgan opened the CCRL annual dinner noting the organization’s activities over the past year including involvement in six court cases, three cases relating to Trinity Western University’s law school status in three provinces and three at the Supreme Court level including the euthanasia and prayer at city council decisions.
CCRL executive director Christian Elia dedicated the evening to his predecessor Joanne McGarry, who passed away just prior to the 2014 dinner.
Former National Post religion writer and anti-euthanasia crusader Charles Lewis gave the keynote address. He exhorted all Christians to get involved in public affairs and not hide their religion. “We have every right to bring our faith” to public debate. Echoing American Archbishop Charles Chaput he said it was worse to be silent than be silenced. Lewis also said that considering the moral decadence in the culture, it is “good for our souls to get angry” once in a while.
Noting that the Catholic bishops caved on Ontario’s gay-straight alliances in 2010, he said that once again the Catholic hierarchy was ceding ground to secular liberalism on the euthanasia issue. He condemned a recent Catholic bishops’ statement saying they would work with the government to enact a euthanasia law, saying that Christian leaders should not acquiesce with a law permitting the killing of innocent human beings.