For his bold defense of the role of Church in the public square, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has announced that it will be awarding Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput with its highest honor.
The Becket Fund will award Archbishop Chaput with the Canterbury Medal at its 15th Anniversary Dinner in Manhattan, on May 7, 2009.
The annually awarded Canterbury Medal is given by the Fund to the person who has "most resolutely refused to render to Ceasar that which is God's," a press release from the group says.
Past Canterbury Medalists include Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, Gov. and Mrs. Mitt Romney, financiers Foster Friess and Ted Forstmann, and former Ambassador to the Vatican James R. Nicholson.
"We are especially proud to add Archbishop Chaput to this distinguished list," says Becket Fund president Kevin "Seamus" Hasson. "He is neither shy nor soft-spoken when he believes religious liberty in general or his Roman Catholic faith are in jeopardy. It is we who are honored by his acceptance of our medal."
Among the accomplishments cited by the Becket Fund for defending religious freedom are the archbishop’s book “Render Unto Caesar” and his frequent contributions to America’s public discourse. “His bold words have been cited and debated by leading commentators across political and religious lines,” the group says.
Vatican journalist John Allen notes, Archbishop Chaput writes not just for Catholics "but for anyone who cares about the state of America's soul."
In his book “Render Unto Caesar,” the Archbishop insists that American democracy depends on an engaged citizenry - people of character, including religious believers, fighting for their beliefs in the public square - respectfully but vigorously, and without apology.
Archbishop Chaput is a former two-term member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a tenure which included missions to China and Turkey. A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, he is the first Native American archbishop.