By John-Henry Westen

DANA POINT, California, February 5, 2010 ( – At a gathering Thursday night, former President George W. Bush was awarded the 2010 Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award, given annually by the international Catholic business executives' organization, Legatus, for distinguished achievement in service to the pro-life effort. 

Less than a dozen protestors attempted to make a presence outside the 2010 Legatus Annual Summit at the St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel but left before the President arrived.

Participants report that Bush seemed very much at home with the crowd of some 450 Catholic business men and women whose organization boasts approximately 4,000 members worldwide.

In an hour-long talk which he delivered without referring to notes, Bush wowed the audience and received six standing ovations.  With many humerous anecdotes and sometimes serious insights into international politics, the former President held the crowd seemingly with ease.

Bush described his memorable trip to the Vatican with his wife and father, former President George H. Bush, for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.  He described how as the Pope’s casket was being taken up some stairs the pall bearers seemed to tilt the open casket so that the body of the Pope could be seen, at which point, said Bush, the sun burst through some clouds to shine directly on the body of the John Paul II.

Bush was the 43rd recipient of the prestigious pro-life award and coincidentally also the 43rd President of the United States.  Organizers thus joked that when seeing Bush in his ‘43rd’ baseball cap they would relish the thought that it was in recognition of his being the 43rd person to receive the John Cardinal O’Connor award, named after the late, heroically pro-life Cardinal of New York.

The award was also presented to four other recipients, Cardinal Francis George, the eighth archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kathleen Eaton, founder of Birth Choice Health Clinics, Dr. Johnny Hunter of LEARN, who is exposing the devastating effects of abortion on the African-American community, and Dinah Monaghan of Arizona who developed the pro-life precious feet.

Former recipients of the award also in attendance included Human Life International’s Fr. Tom Euteneuer, Campaign Life Coalition’s Jim Hughes, Priests for Life President Fr. Frank Pavone, and others.

Other speakers and presenters at the 2010 Legatus Annual Summit include Bella Star Eduardo Verastegui who presented his short film, The Butterfly Circus, actress Patricia Heaton, entrepreneur Frank J. Hanna III, Father Robert Spitzer SJ, Newt and Callista Gingrich, and Thomas Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.