VANCOUVER, Jan. 30, 2013 ( – The head of one of Canada’s largest archdioceses says standing up for the right to life of the unborn and those threatened by the prospect of legal euthanasia should be seen as an “act of charity.”

“To be pro-life, to defend the right to life, means to stand up for the truth, especially the truth about the Godgiven dignity and worth of every human being,” says Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver. “We must be firmly convinced that this is the truth that sets people free and to proclaim it is an act of charity.”

The archbishop made the remarks in a statement released on Monday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the R. v. Morgentaler decision. In the 1988 ruling, Canada’s Supreme Court threw out Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 abortion law that allowed the deadly procedure in cases of risk to the woman’s physical, emotional, or mental health, as judged by a panel of three doctors.


Veteran pro-life leaders say Trudeau’s provision, which passed as part of a sweeping Omnibus bill on May 14th, 1969, had already effectively enshrined abortion-on-demand because the panels were largely a formality. However, the Morgentaler ruling left Canada as the only Western country without any law at all on abortion, joining the ranks of dictatorships like China and North Korea.

In his statement, Archbishop Miller said the ruling “cast a pall over Canada” and “has had an impact we can scarcely measure.”

“If we cannot secure the most fundamental right to life, then there is no basis for any other right at all,” he said. “About this there is no doubt: from its conception, the child has the right to life.”

“Direct abortion and intentional euthanasia are grave contradictions of the dignity of human life and the respect due to God, our Creator,” he continued. “Because the embryo should be treated as a person from conception, the pre-born child must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed like every other human being.”

Since taking over the Archdiocese of Vancouver in 2009, the prelate has earned a reputation as one of the most outspoken Church leaders in defense of the right to life. He joined the archdiocese as Coadjutor Archbishop in 2007 after serving in a key Vatican post as secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Noting that Catholics are in the midst of the Year of Faith, in which Pope Benedict has called or a renewal of faith and commitment to evangelization, the archbishop says he has observed a “growing sense of hope” among pro-life advocates.

“There appears to be more enthusiasm than ever in advancing the cause of life,” he said. “All of us need to ask the Lord for increased courage to speak the truth about the inherent dignity and sacredness of human life ever more clearly.”

Archbishop Miller’s full statement is available here.


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