IRI to Honor President Bush and Pope John Paul II with 2005 Freedom Award

Washington, DC – IRI will honor President George W. Bush with the 2005 Freedom Award for his dedication to the advancement of freedom and democracy.  President Bush will be in attendance to accept his award.

IRI will also posthumously honor Pope John Paul II with the 2005 Freedom Award.  Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, DC, will accept the award on behalf of the late pope.

“The International Republican Institute is pleased to announce President Bush and the late Pope John Paul II as this year’s Freedom Award honorees,” said Senator John McCain, IRI chairman.  “President Bush understands that the advancement of democracy and freedom is not just a noble endeavor but a strategic mission vital to the safety of America and throughout his 26 year papacy, Pope John Paul II was a tireless advocate for those who suffered under repressive regimes.”

In the days following 9/11, President Bush rallied the country and then rededicated America to the mission of advancing democracy and freedom around the world.  He understood that to keep America safe and end terrorism, democracy must be brought to countries where freedom was previously denied. In his second Inaugural address, President Bush said, “We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.  The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

President Bush’s commitment has already helped free millions and has given hope to others around the world who struggle for freedom and democracy.

Pope John Paul II’s support for Poland’s Solidarity movement is credited with hastening the downfall of the Soviet Empire.  In 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected the first-ever Polish Pope.  Pope John Paul II visited his native Poland in June the following year and confronted its rulers with a simple truth – Christianity and Communism were not compatible.  His words gave the Polish people strength to resist the regime through peaceful means and bring democracy and freedom to their homeland.  This event inspired people throughout Eastern Europe during the 1980s; by the end of the decade, Eastern Europe was free of the Soviet Union, which then collapsed.

Past honorees have included then-National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Vice President Dick Cheney and Mrs. Lynne Cheney, and Nobel Laureate and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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