Friday 14 October 2011

Quiet champion of the pro-life movement dies

I am saddened to hear of the death of John Damian O’Callaghan, the inaugural chairman of the Board of the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI).

For many years, SCBI has provided the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children with bioethical advice. It is an independent, non-sectarian, autonomous institution committed to research into important bioethical issues. Based in Adelaide, Australia, it adheres to universal human values, human rights, and the laws of humanity, including the inviolable and inalienable right to life of every member of the human family, whatever the age, status or ability of that member, from conception to natural death.

Fr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant and a founding director of SCBI has sent me the obituary which I am pleased to publish.
John Damian O’Callaghan (1930-2011)
Quiet champion of the pro-life movement dies
John Damian O’Callaghan was the inaugural chairman of the Board of Southern Cross Bioethics Institute from the 28th of March 1988 until his resignation on the 8th December 2009.

For 21 and a half years, his leadership of the Board was a key factor in the Institute’s development from a new and unknown entity to one which has achieved recognition nationally and internationally. He championed the cause of the Institute to the Board of Southern Cross Care, the parent body, to secure its ongoing funding and professional development.

Through the best of times and through the most difficult of times he promoted the work of the Institute as a vital contribution to the Australian community - and to the international community - in the development of public policy in a way that would show the utmost respect for human life from conception to natural death.

When we think of the heroes of the prolife movement we often think of those outstanding personalities whose intellectual or charismatic abilities are so publicly obvious to all. But crucial to the workings of an academic institute with its prolife orientation are those who may not have a high public profile but who steadily maintain the viability of the institute.

Where John O’Callaghan was concerned, no demands on his time were too much for the Institute of whose Board he was the Chairman. He was outstanding in his intuitive appreciation of the need for a bioethics which was based on the natural law, respected fundamental human rights, and which fostered an ethically proper relationship between the medical profession, the nursing profession, academic scientists, and the community that these professions seek to serve.

Cheerful, honest, steadfast, mature in judgment, wise in the ways of the world, friendly, giving, gifted, humble, self-effacing, and faithful are just some of the words to describe this great man.

John O’Callaghan is an unsung hero of the prolife movement. His hard work over many years, quietly achieved, lives on after him.

The righteous live for ever,
and their reward is with the Lord;
the Most High takes care of them.
(Wisdom 5:15)
Dr John I Fleming
Founding Director (1987-2004)
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute
13th October 2011
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