When I visited Latin America in 2016 and again last year, I met with educators, church officials, and Notre Dame alumni from all walks of life. We talked about the humanities, science, innovation, the importance of applied research and faith. We also talked about the riches of Latin America and the close ties Notre Dame had to its people.
Again and again in my conversations in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico—just as in many other parts of the world--we returned to the topic of values and ethics, of how values must prepare graduates to combat the blight of corruption that erodes the rule of law, robs from ordinary people and undermines a commitment to the common good essential to any healthy society.
When Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer who for decades has commented eloquently on corruption and tyranny in Latin America, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010, he was described as someone who fought for freedom “with political courage and common sense...” The same could be said of today’s commencement speaker.
It is fitting, then, that Vargas Llosa, the Nobel laureate himself, just last month wrote the following: [Quote]: There are many admirable people in Brazil, but if I had to choose just one of them as an exemplar to show the rest of the world, I would choose Sergio Moro in a heartbeat.”
Our Lady’s university reached the same conclusion last year when we conferred the Notre Dame Award on Judge Sérgio Moro at a ceremony in São Paulo.
We cited him then for what the world would soon recognize – his courageous efforts to preserve his nation’s integrity through steadfast, unbiased application of the law.
By addressing the pernicious problems of public corruption in a judicious but unyielding way, Dr. Moro has made a marked difference for all Brazilians and for humankind in our universal thirst for justice.
He does this, I know, at grave risk to himself and his family.
Dr. Moro is the son of educators. He received his bachelor’s of laws in 1995 from Maringa State University. The following year he joined the Federal bench. He returned to academia to earn his doctor of laws from the Federal University of Paraná in 2002. He has presided now for two decades in the Federal judiciary, and serves as adjunct professor at his alma mater.
The New York Times described Dr. Moro as “the face of the national reckoning for Brazil’s ruling class.” Fortune ranked him 13th on its list of World’s Greatest Leaders, and Time Magazine included him among the world’s 100 most influential people.
At Notre Dame, we embrace Sergio Moro a bit more intimately – as an honorary member of the class of 2018 and as a good and admirable friend.
Graduates, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Sergio Fernando Moro.