Pope Francis to receive Germany's Charlemagne Prize

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 16. The pope won the German 2016 Charlemagne Prize for European unification. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis was selected to be the 2016 recipient of Germany's Charlemagne Prize for his commitment in promoting European unity.

The announcement was made Dec. 23 in Aachen, Germany by the prize's executive committee. Citing his address to the European Parliament in 2014, the committee commended the pope's message of "peace and understanding" as well as "compassion, tolerance, solidarity and the integrity of creation throughout his pontificate."

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"In a time when the European Union is facing the greatest challenge of the 21st century, it is the pope 'from the end of the world' who orients millions of Europeans to what the European Union brings together at its core: a valid system of values, respect for human dignity and civil liberties, the uniqueness of human beings whatever their ethnic, religious or cultural background and respect for our natural resources," the committee's statement said. 

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists shortly after the announcement that the pope accepted the award as "a sign of encouragement for peace in Europe and the world."

The Charlemagne Prize, named after the first Holy Roman Emperor, is "given to public figures or bodies 'distinguished by their outstanding work toward European unity or cooperation between its states.'"

Pope Francis is the second pontiff to receive the prestigious award following St. John Paul II, who received an "extraordinary" version of the prize in 2004. Past recipients include former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American diplomat Henry Kissinger, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. 

"It is interesting the fact that the first non-European pope of this era receives a great European award, which means that he is a person who is able to understand Europe's role in the history of making peace in today's world from a global perspective," Father Lombardi said. 

The Vatican spokesman also confirmed that Pope Francis will not be traveling to Germany next year to receive the award, but will be presented with the Charlemagne Prize by a delegation in Rome.

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William Rydberg
2 years 11 months ago
Now if we could get them to include a mention of the Trinity in their Constitution...
Leo Cleary
2 years 11 months ago
How grateful I am for the presence of Pope Francis in our midst. This honor is based in Europe yet it reflects the universal character of this pope's life and actions. I recognize in him what I saw in some of my Jesuit teachers in high school and university: an awareness of the struggles of people, a commitment to helping them in some practical manner, and inviting we their students to be part of that help. My three children slipped away from frequent Mass and church activities over the years for many of the reasons some of my friends see in their children. Yet with the coming of this pope, two of the three are returning. Having seen a clip of Pope Francis at confession in St. Peter's Basilica, my elder son took the courage to do the same at his local parish. He told me that he cried with the feeling of relief after that confession. Merry Christmas!
Carlos Orozco
2 years 11 months ago
No mention from the people of Charlemagne Prize of the Pope calling for the respect of human life during all stages, which I remember he did during his address to the European Parliament. I guess the European Union propagandists went deaf when he mentioned it. Emperor Charlemagne would be offended by the use of his name, striping his legacy of all Christian values. If the EU wants to foment peace, they should stop promoting violence against the unborn around the globe, and of imperial warmongering for control of energy resources in the ME, North Africa and Ukraine.

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