FRONT ROYAL, Virginia – The Most Reverend Juan Antonio Reig Pla of the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares, Spain was awarded Human Life International’s Cardinal von Galen Award this past weekend for his courageous defense of life and family.
Human Life International (HLI) Rome Office Director Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro presented the award to Bishop Reig Pla during the Week for Life celebration in Spain at a ceremony on Saturday, April 13 at CEU San Pablo University in Madrid on behalf of HLI President Father Shenan J. Boquet.
“I humbly accept the Cardinal von Galen Award in order to dedicate it to the Catholic Church in Spain, and especially to the lay persons, religious, deacons, priests and bishops whom with love, truth, and courage teach the Catholic faith and morality for the good of all men and women in our country – including those who unjustly persecute us,” Bishop Reig Pla said during his acceptance remarks.
The Cardinal von Galen Award was instituted by Human Life International primarily to honor Catholic prelates who have distinguished themselves for being the voice of conscience in their societies. His Excellency Juan Antonio Reig Pla received this year’s award for his exemplary defense of freedom of religion and conscience, as well as his defense of marriage, the family and all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
“In these trying times, it is important to recognize and support those who actively defend the Catholic faith and spread the Gospel of Life in the face of intense persecution,” said Father Boquet. “Bishop Reig Pla’s courage and leadership is a model not only for clergy, but for all Catholics. I thank Monsignor Barreiro for presenting this award on behalf of HLI.”
Bishop Reig Pla has consistently displayed a strong devotion to defending human life, marriage and the family and never misses an opportunity to promote the defense of life. The bishop was most recently vilified and attacked for a Good Friday 2012 sermon in which he made a broad critique of sexual behavior in modern society. Protesters objected to his statements reiterating Catholic Church teaching that homosexual acts are disordered and sinful. The Alaca City Council passed a resolution asking for him to be transferred to another city. Other groups tried to bring “hate crime” charges against him. But he refused to submit to those trying to silence him.
Bishop Reig Pla possesses a doctorate in moral theology, and is the Vice President of Spain’s Pontifical Institute John Paul II for studies about marriage and the family; President of the Episcopal Sub Commission for the Family and the Defense of Life of the Spanish Conference of Bishops; Vice President of the Episcopal Commission for the Laity; member of the Episcopal for the Doctrine of Faith; and member of the Board of Directors of the Ecclesiastical University of San Damaso.
Blessed Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, bishop of Münster?, Germany, was a great witness of faith, who during dark times made shine the light of truth and had the courage to face the power of tyranny of Nazism in total fidelity with Catholic doctrine. Blessed von Galen raised his voice in defense of the rights of the poor and the sick, strongly protesting against euthanasia and against the persecution of Jews or the expulsion of religious personnel. He was beatified in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Since the award’s inception in 2005, the Cardinal von Galen Award has been given to prelates all over the world, including: Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, ex-President of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature; Cardinal Ricardo Jamin Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, Philippines; and Cardinal Cristian Tumi, Archbishop of Douala, Cameroon.
About HLI: Human Life International: For the Glory of God and defense of Life, Faith and Family. Founded in 1981, HLI is the world’s largest international grassroots pro-life and pro-family organization, with affiliates and associates in over 80 countries on six continents. www.hli.org