DALLAS Texas (Sep. 21)
The highest decoration which can be awarded by the Roman Catholic Church to a non-Catholic was presented here to Fred F. Florence, local civic leader. Mr. Florence was chairman of the St. Paul Hospital building campaign, which raised $4,000,000, the largest amount ever contributed by Dallas citizens.
Bishop Thomas K. Gorman of the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth presented the Benemerenti Medal to Mr. Florence, because of his unselfish efforts on behalf of community projects and especially his support of Catholic institutions. As a symbol of American brotherhood, a recording of the ceremony will be beamed behind the Iron Curtain by the Voice of America.
The gold decoration presented to Mr. Florence bears the image of Pope John XXIII. Bishop Gorman pointed out that this may be the “first presented in the United States or anywhere during the reign of Pope John.” A telegram from President Eisenhower congratulating Mr. Florence stated. “It is most fitting that his neighbors of all faiths join in the tribute to his high standards of citizenship. I am delighted to add my congratulations and best wishes.”