Papal medal for Paddy Kearney

His Eminence Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier OFM and Paddy Kearney with Paddy’s Bene Merenti Papal Medal. PHOTO: Illa Thompson

DURBAN Living Legend, Paddy Kearney has been awarded a special medal by Pope Francis in recognition of his services to the Catholic Church over several decades.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, presented Paddy with the medal at Emmanuel Cathedral on Sunday 8 April.

The Bene Merenti medal is an honour awarded by the Pope. It was originally established 250 years ago as a military medal for soldiers in the Papal Army but for the last 100 years it has been awarded instead to priests and lay people whose service to the Church has been exemplary.

Kearney, who was born and educated in KZN, worked very closely with the late Archbishop Denis Hurley as well as with his successor Cardinal Napier. He helped establish Diakonia Council of Churches which continues the work of supporting Christian churches in the area and helping them work together to promote justice and peace. In recent years he helped found and now chairs the Denis Hurley Centre which brings together people of different faiths to help serve the poor in the centre of Durban.

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Paddy is also the author of the first full biography of Archbishop Hurley: “Guardian of the Light: Denis Hurley, Renewing the Church, Opposing Apartheid”. He was been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Theology from UKZN, and Bonum Commune Award from St Augustine’s. He is also currently is a consultant to the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council and Chair of the Gandhi Development Trust.

In 2014 Paddy Kearney become an eThekwini Living Legend, acknowledging his human rights work for the city.

“I am very grateful to the Parish Pastoral Council of Emmanuel Cathedral together with the Administrator, Fr Nkosinathi Ngcobo, for nominating me to receive this award and to Cardinal Napier for making all the necessary arrangements,” Paddy Kearney commented.

The current version of the Bene Merenti Medal was designed by Pope Paul VI. The medal is a gold Greek Cross depicting Christ with his hand raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the tiara and crossed keys symbol of the papacy. On the right arm is the coat of arms of the current Pope. The medal is suspended from a yellow and white ribbon, the colours of the Papacy. Accompanying the medal is an ornate certificate.

 

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