CatholicVote looked back over the past year to bring you our 2021 Courage Awards. The winners showed extraordinary bravery in their spheres of influence, testifying to the dignity of the human person and the true meaning of freedom. 

Here are your 2021 Courage Award winners:

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco

Let me repeat: no one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it.” ~Archbishop Cordileone

Does any prelate lead quite like Archbishop Cordileone?

He boldly called out Nancy Pelosi on her spurious claim to be a “devout Catholic,” but he also started a national campaign of prayer for her conversion and salvation.

Defying physical threats and the Twitter mob, he publicly defended St. Junipero Serra and the Catholic missions in California. He also reached out as a spiritual father to Catholic high school students who were protesting a pro-life speaker. And he challenged his brother bishops to join together in publicly witnessing to Eucharistic coherence.

Why? He’s a man of deep integrity. For him, everything stems from a profound conviction that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself. 

He sees that the Body and Blood of Christ is the foundation of the dignity of the human person, and the only path forward for a just society.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, physician and psychiatrist

“These coercive mandates violate basic principles of medical ethics. Even if the vaccines receive full FDA approval, no sensible understanding of herd immunity can justify forcing vaccinations on healthy young adults who are at minimal risk of hospitalization or death from Covid, especially those who already had Covid.” ~Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

When COVID struck in 2020, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty helped develop ethics guidelines, treated numerous infected patients, and eventually contracted COVID himself. Protected with natural immunity, he opposed mandatory vaccine requirements, arguing that both science and medial ethics ought to allow such a choice. In December 2021, he was fired by the University of California. 

Dr. Kheriaty joined 30 physicians in filing a Freedom of Information Act request seeking government data on the Pfizer vaccine. In response, the federal government said it would release the data … in 55 years!

Despite the unjust and unreasonable criteria, Kheriaty stuck to his guns.

In so doing, he took a stand for personal freedom and science-based medical policy – for all of us. 

With Biden’s OSHA mandate set to take effect January 4th, Dr. Kheriaty will soon be joined by thousands of conscientious objectors across the country. 

May his courage give us all the strength to defend freedom of conscience.

Archbishop Jose Gómez of Los Angeles

“History is what holds us together as one nation. How we remember our past shapes how we understand where we are at in the present.” ~Archbishop Jose Gómez

The cranky left-wing National Catholic Reporter declared Archbishop Gómez their “Newsmaker of 2021” and called him a “failed cultural warrior.” More informed observers were grateful for his humility and leadership. CatholicVote is proud to commend him for his courage in the face of rabid opposition from forces both outside and within the Church.

One thing is clear, Archbishop Gomez prefers defending the faith of our fathers to angling for the red hat. 

Together with Cordileone and an overwhelming majority of his brother bishops, he led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to issue a much-needed teaching document on the beauty and meaning of the Eucharist.

All this despite enormous pressure from both Capitol Hill and detractors in Rome to abandon entirely the question of pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion.

Topping it off, in an address to the Congress of Catholics in Public Life in Spain this fall, Archbishop Gomez also delivered a rousing call to resist pernicious woke ideologies.

While some have suggested that the archbishop’s failure to secure the cardinal’s hat this year indicates weakness, his courage has actually confirmed him as a spiritual father to millions of American Catholics. 

We need more bishops who prioritize bold witness over political advancement. 

Others who made the list include:

The Parents of Loudoun County, VA, who took back their kids

Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida

Christopher Rufo, conservative activist

Attorney General Lynn Fitch of Mississippi

Abigail Shrier, author, investigative journalist

Enes Kanter Freedom, NBA Boston Celtics basketball star 

Full story at Catholic Vote.