Ethics in Government honor awarded to FBI Director Louis Freeh

by Monica Sharp

Louis J. FreehFBI Director Louis Freeh, a native of New Jersey and former Federal judge in New York, received the first annual "Ethics in Government Award" at an afternoon gathering on Wall Street last January 25th. The award cites Mr. Freeh as "a man of deep faith, of sure conviction, and of high standards."

The Passionists of St.Paul of the Cross Province sponsored the event initiating the award, which recognizes public figures who have helped to "bridge the gap between religious and secular life." The award also heightens awareness of Passionist ministries in the business world.

Cardinal John O'Connor and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani served as Honorary Chairmen. Among the co-Chairmen were Charles Cawley, Chairman of the MBNA Bank, David Cornstein, Chairman of Finlay Enterprises, and Thomas Mottola, President of SONY Entertainment.

Shortly after the closing bell on the Exchange, nearly 400 leaders of the financial world crowded into the Stock Exchange Luncheon Club. The club, in the heart of the Wall Street, provides refuge from the hectic trading floor below. Alfred E. Smith IV emceed the program, which included remarks by Passionist Fr. Paul Wierichs, the award citation by Provincial Terence Kristofak and Director Freeh’s acceptance speech.

Fr. Paul, the Passionist development officer who originated the award, thanked all those who helped make the event a success. He saluted his friend Louis Freeh as a devoted husband and father; he praised all the members of the FBI and asked his listeners to help the Passionists in their work with the needy --- young and old. On that same day, Fr. Paul had observed his eighth anniversary as chaplain to the FBI’s New York City office.

Father Terence's remarks
Passionist Provincial Fr. Terence, on behalf of all Passionists and their co-workers around the world thanked Director Freeh for accepting the award. He praised him for his efforts "to bring to the work place and the social arena, the values, morals and standards that he holds personally.

I, as Provincial, am very proud to be here tonight, to take part in this award ceremony honoring Mr. Freeh. A man of deep faith, of sure conviction, of high standards, he is the first to receive the Passionist Ethics Award.

This award, conceived and spear-headed by Father Paul Wierichs, the present Chaplain for the FBI and officer of Development for our province, is our attempt as Catholic religious to bring the secular and spiritual world a bit closer together. It is an effort on our part to recognize someone such as Director Freeh as an example in our world, which is often filled only with duplicity, cynicism and self-gain.

Prior to the ceremony, I was given a description from Director Freeh of the FBI core values. The statement says:

"'The strategic plan for accomplishing the FBI’s mission must begin by identifying the core values which need to be preserved and defended by the FBI in performing its statutory missions. Those values are: rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States; respect for the dignity of all those we protect; compassion, fairness, and uncompromising personal and institutional integrity.'

These core values --- respect, fairness, compassion --- are truly Gospel values. They are fundamental to us, living in society, for building a just and better world to live in, as indeed the Creator intended us to live.

Along with the 240 Passionist priests and brothers of our Province of St. Paul of the Cross --- whom I represent, --- with thousands of Passionists serving in some 60 countries around the world, with thousands of men and women who collaborate with us in our mission of proclaiming the unconditional love of God, I, as Provincial, thank Mr. Freeh for accepting this award tonight.

But more importantly, I thank him for his example of bringing his faith to his work. In his landmark encyclical, 'Pacem in Terris,' (Peace on Earth) the great Pope John XXIII made it clear that society can only prosper when those of us in authority care for the needs of all. Fundamentally, it is the respect for and dignity of each human person that not only creates a prosperous society, but also allows those in leadership to carry out their duty to protect and to care for persons everywhere. I hope all live to see the day when there is truly peace on earth --- when every single person is cared for and loved.

FBI Director Louis Freeh's remarks
In accepting the award, Mr. Freeh thanked the Passionists, and in particular, Fr. Paul Wierichs for his eight years of service to the FBI, especially his on-the-scene ministry after the crash of TWA flight 800:

I am really humbled to receive this award. Humbled because of the source of the recognition, and the really humbling (and I believe undeserved) praise and remarks by Father Kristofak. But I'm honored and delighted to be here and really proud to be the recipient of this wonderful award.

Let me thank you, Father Provincial and Father Paul, for your generosity of service in time and spirit and prayers, not just to the men and women of the FBI, but to all those in law enforcement who regularly receive that and count on it, whether it's a room in our office or a temporary command headquarters out on Long Island in connection with TWA 800.

Father Paul and the other chaplains have added a critical dimension of caring for our spiritual and emotional needs --- which, as in many professions but particularly in law enforcement, are very acute, very different, and very important to be served. We thank you for your eight years of service and devotion in that regard...

In the liturgical calendar of the church, today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I know it's not the St. Paul who founded the Passionists, but I thought the calendar note in the liturgy was important.

Everybody knows the famous story of St. Paul. St. Paul who had the charge directly from the Sanhedrin and the High Priest of arresting, without any process, the men and women of 'the Way.' And on his way to Damascus, his famous encounter with God which, of course, changed the history of the church and certainly his own personal history.

I thought it was a good theme for today. The theme seems to be very important and relevant to ethics in public service --- whether you're a prosecutor or law enforcement official, someone who is charged with enforcing the law that also has to be synonymous with the protection of the people.

As we know, not only in St. Paul's initial case, but in many, many cases over the centuries including today, in many parts of the world, perhaps even in our own country, those two are not always synonymous.

It is very critical that those of us in law enforcement who are charged with the protection of the people to bring to the job the acknowledgement and the practice of what we call our Ścore values'. . . It's the appreciation, understanding, and practice of these core values which make public service, church service, and leadership in all those domains effective --- both by doctrine and more importantly, perhaps, by example.

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