WASHINGTON, D.C. (ZENIT.org).- The U.S. Congress will bestow its highest honor for a civilian on John Paul II this Monday. A bipartisan delegation of Senators and Representatives will be in Rome on January 8 to present him the Congressional Gold Medal.
Sam Brownback, sponsor of the measure in the Senate, today explained the reasons for this recognition, which has previously been granted to such figures as Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, and Rosa Parks.
"Pope John Paul II is said to be the most recognized person in the world, having personally visited tens of millions, in almost every continent and country," Brownback said. "He has been one of the greatest pastoral leaders of this century, fearlessly guiding the Catholic Church into the new millennium. Due to his tremendous faith and leadership he was elected bishop at a very early age, and elected to the papacy on October 16, 1978, at the age of 58."
"He stands boldly as an ever-vigilant sign of contradiction to a culture that is darkened by the clouds of death. In the face of this mounting storm, he has tirelessly proclaimed the need for a culture of life," continued the senator. "The urgency of the Pope’s message becomes more acute each day, particularly at the beginning of the new millennium."
"The Pope," he said, "having witnessed first-hand the brutal inhumanity of Nazi and communist regimes, understands, in a way few of us can appreciate, the true dignity of each and every human being. He is a crusader against the offenses against human dignity that have transpired in the twentieth century. More than any other single person this century, Pope John Paul II has worked to protect the rights of each individual.
John Paul II has also addressed almost every major question posed by the modern mind at the turn of the millennium."
"The Pope’s dialogue with the modern world has taken him around the globe, and has led the Catholic Church to play an active role in the lives of people that many have chosen to either forget or ignore," concluded Brownback.
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