The Editorial Board of America is proud to announce that The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is the 2009 recipient of the Campion Award. The award is given on a regular basis to a noted Christian person of letters. It is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J., who is patron of America’s communications ministry. Last year’s award was bestowed posthumously on Jon Hassler, the novelist, who chronicled life in the upper Midwest.
A martyr of the English Reformation, St. Edmund Campion stirred Elizabethan England with his daring missionary efforts and the great power of his pen. His “Brag” in defense of his faith has become a classic. He was known for his faith, chivalry and unusual literary talent—qualities shared by the Archbishop Williams. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England remember Campion in their calendars of saints.
Archbishop Williams, former bishop of Monmouth and archbishop of Wales, has headed the archdiocese of Canterbury and led the worldwide Anglican Communion since 2003. A renowned scholar, theologian, ecumenist, pastor, professor and poet, he is the author of more than a score of books. For his distinguished contributions to Christian letters, the editors of America honor Archbishop Williams in the name of St. Edmund Campion.
The award will be presented on this evening, January 25, 2010, during a reception at America House, 106 W. 56th St., N.Y.C., from 5 to 6:45 p. m. The ceremony will conclude with a prayer service marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Archbishop Williams will preside along with Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Papal Nuncio and the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Bishop William Murphy, bishop of Rockville Center. Also in attendance will be Archbishop Demetrios, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
The Campion Award
The Campion Award is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J., who was put to death on the gibbet of Tyburn, London, in 1581 because he would not deny his faith or his priesthood. He was canonized in 1970. Campion stirred English hearts before his tragic death by his daring missionary efforts and the extraordinary power of his pen. Evelyn Waugh said of him that Tyburn’s gallows cut short a career that might have been one of English literature.
Campion left Oxford to prepare for the priesthood at Douay, France, and later returned to England to serve the Roman Catholic community during a period of religious persecution under Queen Elizabeth. Campion’s “Brag” in defense of his faith has become a classic and moving example of a person of faith, chivalry, and unusual literary talent: it pays tribute to those same qualities in the modern authors to whom this award is given.
The Campion Award was established in 1955 by the Rev. Harold C. Gardiner, S.J., then editorial chairman of the Catholic Book Club and literary editor of America magazine. Jacques Maritain, the noted Thomistic philosopher, was chosen in May 1955 as the first recipient of the award. Since then:
1956: Helen Constance White, educator and author
1957: Paul Horgan, novelist and man of letters
1958: Rev. James Brodrick, S.J., British church historian
1959: Sister M. Madeleva, C.S.C., poet and scholar
1960: Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, authors and publishers
1961: Rev. John LaFarge, S.J., editor in chief of America, and author
1962: Rev. Harold C. Gardiner, S.J., literary editor of America/author
1963: Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot, British poet
1965: Barbara Ward, British professor and church historian
1966: Rev. John Courtney Murray, S.J., university professor/theologian
1967: Phyllis McGinley, creative writer
1968: George N. Shuster, author and publisher
1970: G. B. Harrison, Shakespearean scholar and author
1971: Walter and Jean Kerr, critic and playwright, respectively
1974: Rev. Karl Rahner, S.J., university professor and theologian
1976: John Delaney, publisher and editor
1984: Rev.Raymond E. Brown, S.S., univ. professor/Scripture scholar
1986: Walker Percy, novelist
1987: The Honorable John T. Noonan, federal judge/author
1988: Robert Giroux, chairman of the editorial board of Farrar, Straus & Giroux
1989: Rev. Avery Dulles, S.J., univ. professor and systematic theologian
1990: Shusako Endo, novelist
1991: Martin Marty, university professor and theologian
1992: Rev. Walter Ong, S.J., university professor and literary critic
1993: J. Bryan Hehir, university professor and theologian
1994: Annie Dillard, writer and university professor
1995: Rev. Richard A. McCormick, S.J., univ. professor and theologian
1996: Chinua Achebe, fiction writer
1997: John Updike, fiction writer and critic
1998: Daniel Berrigan, S.J., author and prophetic witness
1999: New York Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan—scholar, statesman, author
2001: Dame Muriel Spark, mystery writer
2006: Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, sociologist and author
2008: Jon Hassler, university professor and author
2009 The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury