Two longtime social justice advocates will be honored by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors this weekend.
George Horton, director of the Department of Social and Community Development in the Archdiocese of New York, and Gerald Flood, a volunteer in the jubilee debt relief movement, were selected for the honors earlier this year.
Horton will receive the Servant of Justice Award as a member of the association.
Flood, a member of St. Raphael Parish in Rockville, Md., will receive the Harry A. Fagan Roundtable Award for promoting Catholic social teaching.
The awards will be presented during the association’s annual symposium Feb. 9-10 as part of the lead-in to the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering next week.
Flood used his knowledge of international financial markets and their role in development from his years at the World Bank to help secure debt relief for some of the world’s poorest nations. After retiring from the World Bank in 1995, he volunteered with the Salesian Fathers and then for 15 years with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the issue.
“This was a high priority for the bishops’ conference and I wanted to do what I thought would be useful,” Flood told Catholic News Service.
He said his belief in the importance of securing debt relief came from his work at the World Bank in the Caribbean and Nigeria and his Catholic faith.
Working through political and financial channels, Flood called upon experience in developing nations to help the jubilee debt movement secure passage of key legislation in Congress that benefited heavily indebted poor countries. Because of the work billions of dollars now are used on development to reduce poverty rather than paying off huge amounts of accumulated debt.
“I dug in,” he said. “I dug in to very important work for poor people around the world.”
Horton began working at Catholic Charities in New York in 1981 and has directed the archdiocese’s social action effort since 1991. He helped establish the Education Outreach Program more than 20 years ago. The effort has helped more than 500 people make the transition out of homelessness.
“I’ve been involved with public policy for people who are poor in many different ways, in all aspects of poverty,” Horton, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish on New York’s Upper West Side, told CNS.
He points to the Education Outreach Program as a major success under his tenure. The program involves the appearance of formerly homeless people speaking at parishes so that parishioners can better understand their needs and begin to work for the development of improved social policies aimed at reducing homelessness.
Like Flood, Horton has been an adviser to the USCCB on social policy. He is widely known throughout the New York Archdiocese as a speaker on Catholic social teaching and regular contributor to Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper.