The Most Reverend Antonio Arregui Yarza, Archbishop of Guayaquil and President of the Ecuadoran Bishops Conference, is a pro-life hero. In the face of death threats and vicious public attacks, he stands firm for the pro-life and pro-family principles of the Church. He courageously led the bishops of Ecuador in strongly denouncing the anti-life “reproductive health” and pro-homosexual language included in the new constitution. Through his leadership, the people of his archdiocese voted against ratifying the constitution. Sadly the national vote approved it.
HLI has reported on the exceptional persecution of the Church and pro-lifers that took place during the campaign leading up to the referendum on the new constitution. The severed head of a dog with a Eucharistic Host in its mouth was left in a Catholic chapel as a warning to clergy to keep silent. This happened just after the president of Ecuador made a public statement calling on his supporters to confront priests who opposed him. Acts of profanation were committed against six churches, including the painting of satanic symbols on church walls. Leftists heckled homilists during Sunday masses. Amparo Medina, coordinator of our HLI affiliate in Ecuador, also received death threats but continued her pro-life campaign.
Archbishop Arregui refuses to be intimidated and has consistently defended innocent human life. He opposed amoral sex education in schools and the propaganda advocating a permissive attitude towards sexual morality. Arregui led the successful fight to block the introduction of the Morning-After-Pill to Ecuador in 2004. The court case brought before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court ended with a unanimous pro-life ruling in 2006 that the Postinor 2 pill is an abortifacient and therefore violated their formerly pro-life constitution.
On a positive note, Archbishop Arregui was instrumental in having the 25th of March declared the Day of the Preborn Child by the Ecuadorian bishops in 2007. Many nations, primarily in Latin America, have created a pro-life civil and religious commemoration of the Feast of the Annunciation. Christ took on human flesh at his conception which makes this feast a particularly appropriate moment to reiterate the right to life of all children before birth.
Ecuador is in the midst of a tremendous crisis. Three million citizens have fled the country due to the current economic and political instability. President Rafael Correa has taken the ultra-nationalist leftist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, as a mentor. In the face of so many challenges, this South American nation is blessed to have an exceptional shepherd in Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza. HLI is most pleased to confer the Cardinal von Galen Award on him and to unite our prayers with his for Ecuador.