The Prestigious Cardinal John J O’Connor award for 2013 has been awarded to the executive director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children John Smeaton for his untiring work in support of unborn life for the last 40 years.
The Cardinal John J O’Connor award has in previous years been given to Cardinal Raymond Burke and also to Dr. Jack Wilke who is known as the father of the pro-life movement in the United States.
Photo shows John Smeaton and his wife Josephine with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan and Mike Faricy of the Legatus Board
John Smeaton who was also asked to address the Legatus convention in accepting the award told the gathering that he was deeply honoured to receive the award and he continued;
In addition to the honour to me personally, which I most gratefully acknowledge, it’s an award which implicitly honours Josephine, my dear wife, whose loving, wholehearted support for me, for my work for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, SPUC, makes it possible for me to do that work.It’s also an award which honours all of my fellow workers in SPUC and its members, who are the salt of the earth, and with whom I have had the privilege to work for 40 years, 36 of those years professionally.It seems to me that the history of Legatus and the history of this award, are rooted in prophetic witness. It was, after all, Blessed John Paul II who wrote in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae: “Bishops are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of Life.” And Cardinal John J O’Connor’s life and work embody those prophetic words of our late Holy Father, as does the award itself. And I understand that it was following a meeting with Pope John Paul II, arguably the greatest prophet of the 20th and 21st century, that Mr. Monaghan was inspired to found Legatus.Moreover, the roll call of previous recipients of the Cardinal John J O’Connor – several of whom I have the honour to know personally – is humbling and inspiring. I must now endeavour to live up to the standards set by so many great pro-life figures and leaders who’ve won this award before me. To mention but one, Dr Jack Willke remains a living pro-life prophet whose erudite, easy-to-read books, have been translated into thirty two languages and who broadcast on over 1000 radio stations. I doubt if any pro-life figure has done more than Jack, and his late beloved wife Barbara, to promote the Gospel of Life on the basis of solid facts and reliable empirical evidence.I understand that Legatus requires its members to be ambassadors for Christ and in this connection I am particularly honoured to be receiving this award from Mr Monaghan whose prophetic witness in opposing President Barack Obama’s healthcare coverage for contraception and abortion has inspired the world.The artificial separation of the unitive and procreative elements of sexual intercourse is not only the basis of contraception, it's also the basis of early abortion and in vitro fertilisation. It underpins today's culture of death.Cardinal Raymond Burke, who won the Cardinal John J O’Connor award two years ago, said in a speech in Rome, in November 2010, to the World Prayer Congress for Life:“The attack on the innocent and defenceless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act. The error maintains that the artificially altered conjugal act retains its integrity. The claim is that the act remains unitive or loving, even though the procreative nature has been radically violated. In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union. The so-called ‘contraceptive mentality’ is essentially anti-life. Many forms of so-called contraception are, in fact, abortifacient, that is, they destroy, at its beginning, a life which has already beenconceived.”May these prophetic words of Cardinal Raymond Burke. May the prophetic work of Legatus, and its ambassadors for Christ in the US and throughout the world, continue to inspire and guide the world in our struggle to build anew a culture a life in our troubled world.