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NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) -- Praised for their "heroic and tireless efforts" to affirm a culture of life, the Knights of Columbus received the University of Notre Dame's Evangelium Vitae Medal.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson received the award for the Knights during ceremonies at the university April 26.

The Knights were acknowledged for contributing tens of millions of dollars and volunteer hours to worthy causes and ongoing support for various pro-life initiatives.

The medal, and its $10,000 prize, has been awarded annually since 2011 by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture to honor individuals or organizations for outstanding work affirming and defending the sanctity of human life. It is named for St. Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical "The Gospel of Life."

Anderson said the prize money would be donated to Notre Dame's Charles E. Rice Fellowship program. The fund is named for the late law professor Anderson described as a good friend and "tireless advocate for life."

The Knights' leader urged participants at the award banquet to take bold action in efforts for "a new evangelization of American freedom" and stressed that Catholic institutions must be allowed to fulfill their mission of treating each human person with dignity.

The free exercise of religion must be preserved, he stressed, for "the autonomy of our religious institutions is not extrinsic to the missionary nature of Christianity; rather it is essential to it."

Anderson noted that during President Barack Obama's speech at the 2009 Notre Dame graduation, the president said a way to find common ground about abortion was "to honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause" for the Health and Human Services mandate implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Six years later, that goal has still not been achieved," Anderson said.

He said the Obama administration has been "stubbornly intransigent" on the issue even after discussions with Catholic bishops, cardinals and the Vatican secretary of state.

"During a time when the search for common ground and consensus received heightened rhetoric in Washington, the act itself has become an example of the way in which Washington is becoming less democratic and less capable of consensus," he added.


The message of the HHS mandate is that "Catholic institutions remain free to fashion their own identity as long as that identity conforms to the dictates of government," Anderson said.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.