Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award Citation
September 29, 2017
Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B., D.D.
The document, “Called to Be Catholic: Church in a Time of Peril,” is the charter statement of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. “Called to be Catholic” invited the Catholic Church in the United States to work towards “a common ground centered on faith in Jesus, marked by accountability to the living Catholic tradition, and rules by a renewed spirit of civility, dialogue, generosity, and broad and serious consultation.” This evening’s honoree was part of the discussion group convened by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Msgr. Philip Murnion that produced “Called to Be Catholic,” and has served as a member of the Initiative’s Advisory Committee since the launching of the Initiative in 1996. Tonight, we are pleased to honor Bishop Ricardo Ramirez not only for having been part of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative for over twenty years, but also for his pastoral leadership that has and continues to exemplify the vision laid out years ago by Cardinal Bernardin.
Bishop Ramirez, a member of the Congregation of St. Basil, was ordained a priest in 1966, consecrated a bishop in 1981, and appointed as the inaugural bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1982. He became bishop emeritus in 2013. In his over twenty years of service as the diocesan ordinary, Bishop Ramirez worked diligently to build a diocese that reflected the ecclesial vision of the Second Vatican Council.
Over the years, Bishop Ramirez has served on and chaired numerous committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. His brother bishops also elected him as an alternate to the 1987 Synod of Bishops and a delegate to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, in 1997. Additionally, he was a representative from the U.S. to the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin American and the Caribbean in Aparecida, Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2007. Bishop Ramirez has served as a member of the Catholic Church Extension Society Advisory Committee, as well as two terms as a Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Bishop Ramirez also has been recognized with several decorates, honoris causa.
In all of his pastoral service, Bishop Ramirez has shown an acute sensitivity to the religious and cultural identity of the Hispanic peoples and the needs of all those who find themselves on the margins of society. As stated in “Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future,” the 10th Anniversary Statement of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, “It goes to the very center of who we are – whether we are inclusive or exclusive, whether we can move together in the Spirit or be driven apart by views without willingness to dialogue.” Bishop Ramirez has at his center the very essence of the Spirit, inviting all to the table to share in its gifts and to dialogue constructively and effectively.
With deep appreciate for his extraordinary pastoral service marked by sustained efforts to “renew and revitalize lives of faith,” the Catholic Common Ground Initiative is proud to present the 2017 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award to Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B. on the twenty-ninth day of September, in the year of Our Lord two thousand and seventeen.