The Pope will receive the ”Charlemagne Prize” for his commitment to building peace, awarded by the city of Aachen. Bergoglio – the statement of reasons recites – “gives a message of hope to Europe in times of crisis, which has overshadowed all the achievements of the integration process”. The statement of reasons mentions in particular Pope’s interventions during his visit to Strasbourg with his call to the “voice of conscience” which asks to put people at the center, “an extraordinary moral authority”.
“We know that Pope Francis has never accepted awards or honors given to his person. This is a rather exceptional case and we may be wondering why he has accepted this one. I have asked him – the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, told the Vatican Radio – and he has said that it is an award for peace. In these times when peace in the world is seriously at risk – Bergoglio often speaks about a fragmented Third World War – he believes that talking about peace and encouraging to act for peace is crucial.”
So, “the Pope – Lombardi explained – interprets this award not as something given to him, to honor his person, but as an opportunity for a new message of commitment to peace, dedicated and addressed to everyone in Europe, a continent that needs to build and continue to build peace in its bosom, to be active and to have a huge role for peace in the world. It is thus a peace prize, an opportunity to pray for peace, together, the Pope together with all the peoples and people of good will who manifest desire, yearning, and commitment to build peace on this continent and around the world.”