ST. JOHN’S, Nfld, December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Trail-blazing pro-life obstetrician Dr. Robert Walley has just learned that he is being awarded the highest honor that the Pope can bestow upon laity and religious – the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (literally “For the Church and the Pope”) medal - and he says he never saw it coming.

“I was more than surprised and was taken aback when the Archbishop told me,” Dr Walley, the founder of MaterCare International (MCI), told LifeSiteNews.com, “but I will accept this award on behalf of all who have worked for MCI around the word and especially in Kenya, as well as for all of our benefactors and supporters.”

“Anyway,” Dr Walley said with a smile, “the award is for my wife - she has let me go all these years (since 1981) and kept the family and home going.”

The honor was announced by the Archbishop of St John’s, Newfoundland, Most Rev Martin Currie, in a press release. “Dr Walley is being honoured for his dedication to the cause of life and the health of women on a world-wide basis,” said the archbishop.

Archbishop Currie will formally present the honor to Dr Walley at the 11:00 a.m. mass on December 9, 2012 at St. Pius X Church.

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MaterCare International (MCI) is an organization of Catholic obstetricians and gynaecologists dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, both born and unborn, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Dr Walley explained that the organization’s mission is to carry out the work of John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), which deals with the value and sacredness of human life.

MaterCare helps mothers and babies through initiatives of service, training, research, and advocacy in developing countries designed to reduce levels maternal and perinatal mortality and disease.

MaterCare has an ongoing project in Kenya, where the organization built and maintains a hospital for high-risk mothers that is fully equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive obstetrical services.

Dr Walley told LifeSiteNews that the Isiolo Project will cost almost US$ 5 million and is being funded principally by private donors.

MaterCare’s applications for funding from government aid agencies, such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), have consistently been denied on the basis that the group does not promote abortion or contraception.

“We were told that we would never get funding simply because we wouldn’t provide ‘reproductive health’ and that we were ‘too Catholic’ and too close to the Pope,” Dr. Walley told LifeSiteNews.

MaterCare has also developed and implemented maternal health projects in Ghana, West Africa, and set up an obstetrics unit in Haiti at the request of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, following the devastating earthquake.

For more information about MaterCare visit their website here.