Former President Bush honored at Catholic event for anti-abortion stance

DANA POINT — Former President George W. Bush received an award at a Roman Catholic organization's annual summit today in Dana Point to honor his opposition to abortion.

Bush received a Cardinal John J. O'Connor Pro-Life Award during the Legatus organization's three-day summit at the St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel, recognizing his opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

Legatus is a Catholic organization that seeks to bring business leaders and their spouses together through their faith.

Also receiving the Pro-Life Award during today's luncheon were Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Kathleen Eaton, founder of Birth Choice Health Clinics, a Santa Ana-based nonprofit group that provides free medical services and education to young women facing unwanted pregnancies.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a recent convert to Catholicism; the Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York; and "Everybody Loves Raymond'' actress Patricia Heaton, were among those expected to attend the summit, according to Legatus' Web site.

A few protesters gathered Thursday night at Pacific Coast Highway and Niguel Road to demonstrate against Bush.

"We're expressing our concerns that a war criminal is not being indicted, but instead he's being rewarded,'' said Sharon Tipton, who organized the protest.

Tipton said it was ironic Bush was being honored for his "pro-life'' views when he ordered the invasion of Iraq, which led to countless deaths.

The summit will conclude Saturday.