During the States Dinner at its 128th Supreme Convention Tuesday night, the Knights of Columbus presented its eighth Gaudium et Spes Award to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana, Cuba.
Cardinal Ortega, accepted the award with humility and a smile that won the hearts of everyone at the States Dinner, held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C..
Supreme Chaplain Bishop William E. Lori and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson congratulate Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana, Cuba, Gaudium et Spes Award honoree.
In a citation read by Supreme Chaplain Bishop William E. Lori, the cardinal was praised for his heroic witness to the faith in often difficult circumstances for the Church in Cuba, and was recognized for his recent role in the release of dozens of political prisoners by the Cuban government. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson placed the ribbon and gold medal around the neck of the cardinal and welcomed him to the podium for his acceptance speech.
Cardinal Ortega received the highest honor bestowed by the Knights of Columbus. It was first conferred on Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1992. The award comes with a stipend of $100,000.
In his speech, Cardinal Ortega said it was “a duty to publicly say special words of gratitude for the services rendered by the Knights of Columbus in favor of our Church in Cuba. You, dear Knights of Columbus, have actualized the motto of this year’s convention, I am My Brother’s Keeper.
“Regardless of the distance and the differences in our social or political systems, you have been brothers to the Cuban Catholics and have shown us your solidarity.”
The Knights of Columbus founded its first council in Cuba in 1909 and in recent years has renewed activity there.
The Order has worked closely with Cardinal Ortega and provided crucial support for the new San Carlos y San Ambrosio National Seminary, which is due to open in November.
The cardinal noted, “I can assure you that nowadays the situation is more favorable for the action of charity services characteristic of the Knights of Columbus in the Cuban Church.”