|Phil Horgan, President, Joanne McGarry, Executive Director|
with past award recipient Frank Chauvin
The Catholic Civil Rights League's mandate is to create societal conditions so that Catholic teaching can be better understood in the public square and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics because of what they believe. The evening began with a tribute to Tom Langan, one the League's founding members, past-president and President Emeritus since 2004, who died on May 25.
After Mr. O'Brien was presented with his award, he briefly addressed those present with some profound and insightful thoughts about the faith and the current spiritual battle against Christianity. He said that all his works have been an attempt to show the eternal beauty of every human being and the true story of man. He reminded us that we cannot forget our Christian/faith narrative otherwise we risk forgetting our conception of who we truly are. In so doing, our forgetfulness will be our ruin. Souls are being lost because of a toxic culture that hides man's true identity and calling. The world needs the Catholic voice, founded on Jesus our spiritual rock, to defend, to nourish and make possible the future of mankind. We must always remember that God is our Father and grieves over abortion, euthanasia and all sins against life. We must be the voice and witness to His truth, to His love and to His grace. A standing applause followed.
Author Michael O'Brien is known the world over for his novel Father Elijah: An Apocalypse. His most recent book is Father at Night. He was born in Ottawa in 1948. His non-fiction books include these titles: A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for your Child's Mind, and Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture. Mr. O'Brien is also an internationally renowned artist. His works are now found hanging in many places like churches and monasteries all over North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.
He also has completed a number of publications with his paintings and reflections, such as The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary, painting's for John Paul II's Biblical Way of the Cross, as well as The Family and the New Totalitarianism. Many of his books have been bestsellers in the Catholic and secular world. He has written extensively on how current children's books and films paganize young readers. His works have been translated into many languages. He is married to Sheila and they have six children. We encourage you to visit his website at studiObrien.com.
League President Philip Horgan had this to say about Mr. O'Brien, "Through his ability to engage strong Catholic themes in his writings and the unique religious imagery in his paintings, Michael has given a powerful witness in the world of art and literature, and his work has given spiritual enrichment to countless individuals. It is an honour to recognize Michael's work and give our supporters an opportunity to meet him."
The evening keynote address was delivered by professor Robert Ventresca, chair of the History department at King's University College, London, Ontario and author of a yet-to-be released biography on Pope Pius XII. His talk centred on how the Catholic faith is often poorly portrayed in the public square and the media. Professor Ventresca stressed the importance of learning to distinguish myth from facts in order to best present the Catholic view. Facts and religion do and must go together. He used the conflicting historical views of Pope Pius the XII regarding his efforts to fight Nazism and save the Jews and others both in Italy and the rest of the world. An example of Catholic myth making at the expense of truth can be found, according to Ventresca, in John Cornwell book, Hitler's Pope. In order to present Catholicism in its proper light, the historian and others need to debunk the myths and reveal the truth which is too often complex and cannot be reduced to caricature or sometimes outright lies.
The Catholic Civil Rights League is to be congratulated, encouraged and supported for providing a forum for Catholicism and for defending the faith in the public square. So we thank the League and pray for its continued success, and we conclude with an appropriate thought from Mr. O'Brien that in evangelizing the truth and love of the Gospel we come to know who we are and are meant to be.