January 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 9
U.S. Congress Honors Pope John Paul II

   VATICAN, Jan. 8, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has been honored with a special gold medal by the US Congress, in recognition of his work in favor of human life and peace.

    The Congressional medal has previously given to important international figures since the end of the 18th century. Among the previous recipients were Mother Teresa of Calcutta and last year Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York.

    Pope John Paul received the medal in a private ceremony in the Clementine room at the Vatican, at which about 50 American legislators represented their Congressional colleagues. The award was accompanied by a citation commending the Pontiff for his "message of hope" to the world, his defense of the unborn, his support for peace especially in the Middle East.

    In accepting the award, Pope John Paul reflected that it was a recognition of his ministry as successor to Peter. He said that during the 23 years of his pontificate he had attempted to call attention to Jesus Christ, "who alone reveals man to himself and makes him acquainted with his sublime destiny."

    The Pope also urged the American lawmakers to protect the dignity of human life "without compromise."

    Following is the text of the Holy Father's reply provided by ZENIT.

Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress, Distinguished Guests,

    I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican this morning, and I am honored by the gracious gesture which has brought you here. It is not for the Successor of the Apostle Peter to seek honors, but I gladly accept the Congressional Gold Medal as a recognition that in my ministry there has echoed a word that can touch every human heart. It has been my endeavor to proclaim the word of God, which on the very first page of the Bible tells us that man and woman have been created in his very image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26).

    From this great truth there flows all that the Church says and does to defend human dignity and to promote human life. This is a truth which we contemplate in the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen from the dead. In the years of my ministry, but especially in the Jubilee Year just ended, I have invited all to turn to Jesus in order to discover in new and deeper ways the truth of man. For it is Christ alone Who fully reveals man to himself and makes known his sublime destiny (cf. "Gaudium et Spes", 22). To see the truth of Christ is to experience with deep amazement the worth and dignity of every human being, which is the Good News of the Gospel and the heart of Christianity (cf. "Redemptor Hominis", 10).

    I accept this award as a sign that you, as legislators, recognize the importance of defending human dignity without compromise, so that your nation may not fail to live up to its high responsibilities in a world where human rights are so often disregarded. Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for this Congressional Gold Medal. In offering my good wishes for the New Year, I invoke upon you, your families and all whom you represent "the peace of God which is beyond understanding" (Philippians 4:7). May God bless you all! (Original Text) ZE01010820

For other news stories, see

January 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 9
News on the Church in the USA

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