Remarks of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., upon conferring the 2016 Laetare Medals.
“Man is a political animal,” wrote Aristotle, and thus, as St. Thomas Aquinas noted, some are charged to combine practical reason with a concern for the community to fashion laws that serve their fellow citizens. Through the invitation of one of our Laetare awardees, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress. As our awardees stood behind the Holy Father on that historic day, he reminded the assembled legislators that theirs is the call to “the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good … the chief aim of politics.” No doubt today’s medalists had occasion to reflect on their long careers given to that pursuit.