NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, will be the first recipient of a new University of Notre Dame award designed to honor “outstanding efforts to proclaim the Gospel of life.”
The Evangelium Vitae Medal and a $10,000 prize will be presented to Doerflinger at a spring banquet by the University of Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life.
“Richard Doerflinger’s unwavering commitment and heroic witness to life on Capitol Hill and beyond make him the perfect first recipient,” said David Solomon, who chairs the fund’s governing committee and directs the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture.
Doerflinger told Catholic News Service he was “deeply honored by this award, and I see it in part as a tribute to the collaborative work done by the policy staff of the Catholic bishops’ conference to promote a consistent vision of respect for the human person.”
“It is easy to look successful when you are surrounded by people of great expertise and professionalism who support each other in a common mission,” he added.
The recipient of the medal will be announced each year on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October. The award is named for Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, whose Latin name means “Gospel of life.”
Solomon said the medal will honor individuals who proclaim the Gospel of life “by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.”
Doerflinger, a leader in the pro-life movement for more than 30 years, has been involved in every life issue, including embryo research, abortion, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, at the federal and state level.
He has been instrumental in the drafting and passage of legislation involving parental notification and consent, unborn victims of violence, born-alive infant protection laws, partial-birth abortion bans, conscience protections, abortion funding restrictions and the Weldon Amendment, which prevents the patenting of human embryos.
The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life was established to “educate Notre Dame students in the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life, specifically in its beginning stages, and to prepare those students, through personal witness, public service, and prayer, to transform the culture into one in which every human life is respected,” according to its website.
It funds activities and projects that can include transportation to the annual March for Life in Washington for Notre Dame students who cannot afford it; expenses of the undergraduate and law school pro-life groups, beyond what they receive independently; essay contests and other academic competitions; seminars and other campus conferences on life issues; and faculty, student and intern research into issues regarding human life in its beginning stages.