The Words of Sun Myung Moon from 1984
After the ceremony, Mother and Col. Pak are joined by members of their family.
Over 500 people filled the United Nations Delegates' Dining Room on November 15, 1984, when Father and Col. Pak were each awarded the honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Catholic University of La Plata in Argentina. Mother accepted the award on Father's behalf.
Dr. Nicolas Argentato, the rector of the Catholic University of La Plata, said in his speech at the ceremony that the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa is the highest academic award the university can offer. Dr. José Alberto Bonifacio, dean of the faculty of social sciences at the university, explained the significance of the honorary doctorate and why it was awarded in these two cases:
The Catholic University of La Plata is one of a select group of institutions which began to offer private university education in our country more than 20 years ago.
The greatest force supporting this work is found in the values which motivate us: the Christian ethic and the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which concentrate on the education of young people, inspiring them with love, truth, and justice; the conception of the unity between science and faith as a path which must be constantly deepened; and the active striving for the development and integration of our people so that Latin America can rise up out of her prostration, as her liberators long ago desired.
In recognition of these principles, the Catholic University of La Plata has honored with the title Doctor Honoris Causa extraordinary personages in their respective fields who have supported decidedly the values which we uphold.
Therefore, in this ceremony, Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Mr. Bo Hi Pak are being recognized. It is appropriate to mention their accomplishments in a variety of fields. In the field of media and communications, they have established newspapers and other periodicals as well as organizations which contribute to the development of the media and of people. Most especially, they have shown great concern in the service and proper representation of the nations of Latin America.
In the academic field, it is proper to recognize the persons honored today in their support of the acquisition of greater understanding of the possibility of the unity of the sciences by means of the International Conference for the Unity of the Sciences, as well as the Professors World Peace Academy. In this respect, these organizations allow scholars and academics the opportunity to dedicate their time, energy, creativity, and knowledge to formulate vital solutions toward peace, coexistence, and understanding between all men and women. This is truly a remarkable goal.
In another area, the humanitarian vision of Reverend Moon and Mr. Pak are clearly shown in their realization of the need to give immediate help to populations struck by catastrophes, particularly in Latin America.
Finally, although we realize that this list is certainly not complete, we should mention the Association for the Unity of Latin America (AULA), which has as its goal the integration of the nations of the area, inspired by the ideals of San Martin, Bolivar, and Artigas, who thought long ago of the ideals of the Great Nation which we still desire.
In light of these achievements and others, we have resolved to award the Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Mr. Bo Hi Pak.
Ambassador Josê Maria Chavez, permanent representative to the United Nations of the Organization of Spanish-Speaking Nations, commented in introducing the awards ceremony that Father was given the honorary degree because he has demonstrated that he is a "prophet of our time who has given us new vision and new promises." The ambassador called Father and Col. Pak "men of God with sterling quality," and said that he had studied Father's legal case and believed he was innocent. "I am convinced of his moral integrity." he added.
Mother expressed deep gratitude upon receiving the diploma of the Doctor Honoris Causa on behalf of Father. (Click here for her words.)
In his acceptance speech Col. Pak said that, as a man who was born in the remote countryside of Korea, the fact that he was now receiving this international honor was entirely due to his having met Rev. Moon in 1957 and his striving to emulate Father's example of service to humanity ever since. It is therefore to Rev. Moon, he remarked, that both honorary doctorates should be awarded.
Col. Pak said it was "highly significant that at the time when this North American government chooses to unjustly confine Rev. Moon in a prison, representatives of South America come here to honor him."
He spoke of Father's incarceration and his willingness to undergo this unjust treatment if, in Father's own words, it will help "the nation and the world survive and do God's will." Col. Pak also described the worldwide reaction to Father's imprisonment, particularly the emergence of the religious freedom movement.
Referring to the reaction of people in South America to Father's incarceration, Col. Pak quoted a letter sent to Father after he entered the federal prison in Danbury. The author was a distinguished journalist from South America:
Thank you, Reverend Moon, for having elected to go to jail. Thanks to God, you are in jail in spite of the fact that you could have avoided it. You could have shortened your term merely by capitulating to the government. Or, you could have won the government's mercy by keeping silent about injustice and government abuses. But you did not choose this path. We are proud of your decision to choose suffering instead of bending your principles.
Col. Pak said that people all around the world are protesting the injustice dealt to Father. "Rev. Moon is a man of destiny," he declared:
He is determined to live out his destiny, regardless of the sacrifices demanded of him. I am convinced of one thing, however, and that is this. When he comes out of the prison, he will not come out just as a religious leader, founder of a church and a movement. He will come out as a man of history and an indomitable world figure.
In conclusion, Col. Pak thanked the university for recognizing Father and himself through this award. He pledged to do his best to live up to that honor in the coming years.
Highlights of 1984