By: Grace McCormick – Staff Writer
The 2015 Romero Award recipient is Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradriaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and president of Caritas Internationalis.
The award is bestowed in memory of the slain Salvadoran Archbishop Romero. Individuals or organizations that receive the award “contribute to the promotion of the dignity of all persons and the alleviation of the suffering of the human community,” according to the research done by the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton.
The Human Rights Center at UD explored Rodriguez’s background and many achievements throughout his lifetime. He is known for his voice against poverty and the standards he sets for rich nations to keep their promises to increase and enhance aid to the world’s poorest countries.
All of his life he has been a man of God. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and was then appointed auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa and titular bishop of Prudentiana that same year. Following his rise, he was selected to be archbishop of Tegucigalpa in January of 1993. A few years later, in 2001, he was ordained a cardinal. Pope Francis appointed him Coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, as found by the Human Rights Center at UD. In 2007 he became the 11th president of Caritas Internationalis.
“I am passionate about putting a stop to climate change because of the adverse affects on poor nations,” Rodriguez said at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City in September of 2014. “In a world with enough food for everyone but close to one billion people are going hungry, climate change threatens to put an extra 20 percent of the world’s population at risk of hunger by 2050. Too much of the abundant, fertile world we were given to protect, cultivate and enjoy has been corrupted. We have become indifferent to the damage we are doing, both to the natural world and to our poorest brothers and sisters. This indifference has created an urgent crisis.”
The Caritas webpage mentions that Rodriguez feels the poor contribute the least to the climate change, yet they are affected the most.
The Caritas agencies try to help the communities most affected by harsh weather and natural disasters.
Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, a Caritas Internationalis delegate to the U.N. in New York, said, “Lands, forests, deserts and seas are changing. Whether through bad harvests, arid land, acidic oceans or more extreme and unpredictable weather, the changing climate is hurting the poor.”
Rodriguez focuses on the crisis in the Middle East, as well as on climate change.
Rodriguez urges countries to help with the current situation in the Middle East by advocating for peace and not sending over arms and ammunition.
“Further violence is never the answer,” Rodriguez said.
The event for the award will be held in the KU Ballroom Tuesday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. A performance by Al Staggs, “Romero: A Martyr’s Homily” will be the night before at 7:00 p.m. in Sears Recital Hall.