Pro-life activist, editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk to receive civil rights award
TORONTO, May 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life activist, writer, and editor Father Alphonse de Valk, CSB, has won the Catholic Civil Rights League's winner of this year’s Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life.
Father de Valk, who co-founded the Catholic Civil Rights League in 1985 and was founding editor of Catholic Insight magazine, said he is honored to receive the award from the League.
“Through his outstanding witness to the pro-life message, both through protest and through his writing, Father de Valk has given powerful witness to the pro-life message and to the importance of free speech", said League President Philip Horgan.
Father de Valk is a graduate of the University of Toronto and was ordained to the priesthood in 1965. He spent the early part of his career teaching at schools including St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, and as principal of St. Joseph’s College, University of Edmonton.
While in Edmonton he began publishing booklets on individual aspects of the pro-life issue, usually 12 to 24 pages long. They included Church statements on contraception, abortion, sterilization, homosexuality, marriage and medical-moral issues. With a number of contributors, he stretched the series to 36, with a printing record of just over a million copies.
In 1984, Father de Valk went to work full time for Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto.
In October 1985, he spent a night in the Toronto (Don) Jail for chaining himself to the gate of the Morgentaler abortion clinic. He continued this protest once a week for almost five years.
In 1989, he was arrested nine times and charged with trespassing for violating the injunction against protesting outside the Morgentaler facility, eventually being fined $750 or two weeks in jail. Since then he has stopped witnessing at the site - but he has not paid the fine or gone to jail.
Father de Valk co-founded the Catholic Civil Rights League in 1985, and the Ontario Family Coalition Party in 1987.
He founded Catholic Insight magazine in 1993 with a special mission to inform, catechize, and strengthen faithful Catholics to engage with the culture. He recognized that the intellectual, social and moral underpinnings of the culture of death - contraception, abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality - were interconnected.
In 2006 he became part of the war against the excesses of human rights commissions when he was charged with hate speech by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, based on a complaint from an Edmonton activist about some writings critical of homosexual conduct, written during the debates about changing the definition of marriage.
He was acquitted in 2009 but only after incurring significant legal expense.
Father de Valk retired as editor of Catholic Insight in the summer of 2012.
“It’s an honour to recognize Father de Valk after his recent retirement and reflect on his many contributions to Catholic life in Canada", Horgan said.
The organization, which is devoted to promoting and defending religious civil rights in Canada, will present the award at its annual dinner on May 30 at Spirale Banquet and Conference Centre in Toronto.
The evening will feature a keynote address by Stephen Woodworth, MP for Kitchener-Centre, who proposed Private Members’ Motion 312, which called for a parliamentary study examining Criminal Code provisions about when life begins.
“The League has done a great deal to help the legal side of the pro-life and pro-family movement, and I am greatly honoured to receive this award from them", Father de Valk said.
The Catholic Civil Rights League established the Archbishop Exner Award in 2004 to honor Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI, Archbishop Emeritus of Vancouver, upon his retirement and to recognize outstanding achievement in advocacy, education, life issues, media and culture and philanthropy.
Previous recipients of the award include Michael O’Brien, artist and author, for creative work incorporating authentic Catholicism and Catholic teaching (2012);, Michael Coren, author and broadcaster, for his outspoken defense of Catholicism in media (2011); and Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Coalition for his service to the pro-life movement (2007).
Information about attending the Catholic Civil Rights League annual dinner is available here.