Dalai Lama Will Receive Liberty Medal

He'll be in town just a month after Pope Francis.

ChameleonsEye | Shutterstock.com

ChameleonsEye | Shutterstock.com

The Dalai Lama will be the recipient of the 2015 Liberty Medal, officials announced today.

The medal is presented annually by the National Constitution Center to individuals “who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.” The Dalai Lama has long been an outspoken advocate of Tibetan independence from China, which is likely to frown on a high-profile American award being given to him: China has branded him a “separatist” and protested high-profile contacts between the Dalai Lama and American leaders.

A spokesman for the National Constitution Center could not immediately say if the center had consulted with the State Department or other government officials before deciding to give the award to Dalai Lama.

“In his advocacy for Tibetans and for human rights worldwide, the Dalai Lama has always emphasized the ideals of freedom, dialogue, and tolerance,” National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said in a written statement announcing the award.

Of course, medal recipients have often been close to controversy. Last year’s recipient, Malala Yousafzai, won after surviving an assassination attempt in her home country of Pakistan; the year before, Hillary Rodham Clinton received the award despite protests from Republicans.

The award will be presented October 26th — precisely a month after Pope Francis makes his visit to Philadelphia. It’s going to be quite the fall for major religious figures in Philly, Mayor Nutter noted in the announcement.

“The city is fortunate to host two of the world’s most inspirational leaders in such a short time,” he said.

The Liberty Medal was established in 1988. Six recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.