Toronto, ON June 9, 2016 – On June 2, the CCRL hosted its annual dinner in Toronto. This year the keynote speaker was Douglas Farrow, Professor of Christian Thought at McGill University, holder of the Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies, and Project Director for Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy. He spoke about the concept of autonomy and autonomy and dignity as understood by society, reflected in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter decision and Parliament’s response in Bill C-14.


For the state today does not acknowledge that there is any higher form of law than its own law. It regards it a duty of its secularity that it should make no such acknowledgment. Conscience-and-religion claims have thus receded into the realm of the non-rational. They are not perspicuous to public reason, and can be accessed legally only by a sincerity test; that is, they permit only a subjective judgment as to whether they are deeply and sincerely held. Conscience and religion claims, at bottom, are just a subset of autonomy-and-dignity claims. Voices are now raised asking whether they add anything specific or particularly useful, or should be de-listed.

Otherwise put, one can no longer appeal to the fundamental demands of morality, for the state does not know what to do with moral questions. It knows only choices, choices that rest on the freedom of indifference. The choice for suicide stands on level ground with the choice against suicide.

The League presented the Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life to anti-euthanasia/assisted suicide activist Alex Schadenberg.  He has been the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) since July 1999 and the Chair of EPC – International since November 2007. Schadenberg, who was accompanied by his wife and six children, spoke about the history of the EPC and the fight against euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.


The CCRL instituted the award to honour Archbishop Exner upon his retirement in 2004. It recognizes outstanding leadership in a variety of areas, including education, philanthropy, life issues and social development. Previous winners have included the late Frederick W. Hill, Catholic philanthropist and chairman of the Hill Group of Companies, Gwen Landolt, long time national Vice-President of REAL Women of Canada, Jim Hughes, founder of Campaign Life Coalition, Fraser Field, founder of Catholic Educators Resource Centre, Dr. Andrew and Joan Simone, founders of Canadian Food for Children, Frank Chauvin, founder of Haiti’s first orphanage for girls, broadcaster Michael Coren, artist and author Michael O’Brien and prolife writer and activist Father Alphonse De Valk, CSB.

For more on the CCRL’s Spring Dinner 2016, please see:

For the Catholic Register’s article on Alex Schadenberg and the Exner Award please see:

For the world’s most widely read blog on issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide, please visit:

For more from Prof. Farrow on euthanasia and assisted suicide, please see:



About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director