John Paul II Receives Congressional Gold Medal

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2001 ( John Paul II today received a bipartisan delegation of 50 U.S. Congressmen and women, who presented him the Congressional Gold Medal.

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The Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. It was awarded for the first time to George Washington in 1776, and to more than 250 personalities since then, outstanding among whom are Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Cardinal John O´Connor, and Nelson Mandela.

«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,» he told the delegation.

«From this great truth, there flows all that the Church says and does to defend human dignity and to promote human life,» the Holy Father continued.

«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,» the Pope added.

«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,» John Paul II emphasized.

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