Duke Henri, 4 Foundations Receive Van Thuân Prize

Justice and Peace Council Recognizes Defenders of Dignity

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A foundation began by the Vatican's justice and peace council is giving its Van Thuân awards to the grand duke of Luxembourg and four foundations.



The St. Matthew Foundation of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace had an award ceremony in Rome on Wednesday.

The prizes are given in the spirit of Servant of God Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuân, and recognize persons or organizations dedicated to the defense of life, as well as encouraging those who dedicate their lives to humanitarian projects of great social value.

Henri of Luxembourg
 
The prize recognized the monarch of the Duchy of Luxembourg, Henri I.

The duke and his wife, Maria Teresa Mestre, created a foundation with the main objective of humanitarian assistance.
 
Henri I is also an active member of the Mentor Foundation, sponsored by the World Health Organization to prevent drug use among youth.
 
According to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the monarch merited the Van Thuân award because of "his commitment and work in defense of human rights, the right to life and religious liberty."
 
Moreover, he "is the father of a beautiful family of five children. The objective of the prize is to make known persons who live according to their faith."

Cardinal Martino lauded what he called the duke's courage and faith-inspired decision to oppose a euthanasia law passed last year by Luxembourg's Parliament.

Solidarity

The Van Thuân Solidarity and Development Prizes, which are presented to institutions, organizations or associations, went to foundations in Italy, Colombia, Thailand and France:

The Comis Foundation, founded by Monsignor Andrea Vece, at Our Lady of Fatima parish in Salerno, Italy, aims to evangelize the non-baptized by establishing parishes. Since its foundation in 1989, the foundation has built eight parishes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It also seeks to generate development projects, either in agriculture or livestock.
 
The WINGS project, part of the Paths of Freedom Foundation, was created in the Archdiocese of Bogota, Colombia, in 1997. It seeks the construction of a national center to evangelize prisoners and former prisoners as well as their families, always promoting human dignity, justice and integral development.

Another foundation that received the prize was the "Skills Development Center for the Blind," in Pakkred, Nonto Haburi, Thailand. This foundation offers biannual courses to the blind to reinforce and develop other faculties, thereby enabling them to enter the workforce.

Finally, the Le Rocher Association, founded by Cyril Tisserand, a member of the Emmanuel Community, works to carry out educational and social projects in poor neighborhoods in French cities. It aims to support and evangelize immigrants through volunteers who live there.