Nuns criticize Catholic group for giving Barr award for 'Christlike behavior'

Two nuns criticized the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (NCPB) for its plans to award Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too MORE for “Christlike behavior” on Wednesday morning.

Sister Helen Prejean slammed the Catholic organization for announcing the Christifideles Laici Award would be given to Barr, who is Catholic, at the annual breakfast. The award honors the recipient for “Exemplary Selfless and Steadfast Service in the Lord’s Vineyard,” according to the NCPB website.

Prejean, an advocate against the death penalty, argued in a tweet Tuesday night that the attorney general has not demonstrated “Christlike behavior” after the Justice Department resumed federal executions this year. 

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“A.G. Barr has ordered the executions of six men with at least one more on the calendar,” she wrote on the social media platform. “What is ‘Christlike’ about using discretionary power to kill?”

Another nun, Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of the Catholic social justice group Network, told The Hill in a statement that awarding Barr was "scandalous."

"The Attorney General reinstituted executions, targets peaceful protesters with violence, protects corrupt politicians, and minimizes the impact of COVID-19. He fails to follow the teaching of our shared Catholic faith," she said. "This is the antithesis of a man who protects life, and it is scandalous that he is being given an award for such uncatholic behavior."

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“In the political shadow of the Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning, our politicians are once again attempting to wrangle Catholics with the all too flawed, narrow, and politically opportunistic view of our faith," she added.

Network launched the seventh annual Nuns on the Bus virtual national tour Wednesday to encourage Americans to vote against President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTim Ryan slams McCarthy for mocking Capitol physician, mask mandate McCarthy knocks Pelosi, mask mandate: 'This House has broken the country's trust' Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (D-Calif.) spoke at the virtual tour launch, saying she was also "expressing dismay" about Barr receiving the award.

"There's a big difference between what Christ would do and what they're honoring this morning," she said.

The NCPB created the award last year “to help highlight these good works and those who serve the Church so well.” The virtual breakfast, which was postponed since March due to the pandemic, started at 11 a.m.

As of Wednesday morning, 22,213 people have signed a Faithful America petition calling on the NCPB to cancel giving Barr the award. Originally, the petition had a 20,000 signature goal, but the group has since raised it to 25,000.

“Attorney General William Barr's work — which includes teargassing peaceful protesters in front of the White House, defending the president's lawless corruption and attacks on American elections, and reinstating federal executions — has nothing to do with service to the Lord, and cannot be described as fidelity to the Church,” the petition reads.

“As fellow Catholics and other Christians, we call on the NCPB to cancel this award for Barr immediately, and avoid any further appearance of endorsing Donald Trump or his Cabinet members so close to an election,” it continues. 

The NCPB and the Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Faithful America, a progressive Christian group, noted in a release that the award will be given the same week the Justice Department will conduct two executions. 

Pope FrancisPope FrancisThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill Pope encourages audience to take a break from stresses of modern life Pope Francis reimposes restrictions on Latin Mass, reversing Benedict MORE has come out against the death penalty under all circumstances, calling it “inadmissable” in 2018 when he changed the Catholic Church’s teaching. 

But the Trump administration resumed federal executions after a 17-year suspension, conducting six executions this year, including William Emmett LeCroy, who was executed Tuesday after being convicted of raping and killing a woman in 2004. 

Progressive Christians have also denounced the NCPB for identifying as nonpartisan but hosting mostly Republican leaders, including Trump this year.

Updated at 12:44 p.m.