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Grand Rapids, MI — Expanding on its successful Homiletics Award program, the Acton Institute announced the recipients of its first annual Spanish-language Homiletics Award. This year’s program drew 14 entries from all across the Spanish-speaking world, including Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Spain. Participants prepared a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22 (“Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s; and to God what is God’s”).

The award-winning homilies will be available in Spanish on the Acton Web site at In all, four recipients were selected:

First place: Pedro Fernando Mercado Cepeda of Sabanalarga, Colombia . At the outset of the contest, he was a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Barranquilla and a student at the Universidad de Navarra, Spain. Recently he was ordained a deacon. Now he is at the Pontificia Universidad de la Santa Cruz, Rome, to complete his master’s degree in political philosophy. Soon he will publish a paper on the peace process in Colombia. US$ 2,000.

Second place: Vicente Jara Vera of Madrid, Spain . He is a student at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, Madrid, where he is working on a master’s degree in theology. Jara is also a telecommunications engineer (U.P.M. Madrid) and has a master’s degree in ecclesiastical sciences. US$ 1,000.

Third place: Agustin Beltrán Flores, of Chilapa, Mexico . Beltran, an alumnus of Acton’s Toward a Free and Virtuous Society conference in 2002, is studying theology at the Seminario Diocesano de Chilapa. US$ 500.

Honorable mention: Visencio Gonzalez, of Caracas, Venezuela . He is working on a master’s degree in theology at the Centro de Estudios Araya, Caracas. Gonzalez also holds a master’s in economics and business degree.

This year's panel of Homiletics judges included: Dr. Alejandro Chafuén, President of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Fairfax, Virginia; Dr. Mariano Avila, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Lic. Ramón Parellada, entrepreneur and Professor of Economics at the ESEADE (Escuela Superior de Economía y Administración de Empresas) of UFM (Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala).

The annual homiletics award is designed to recognize and promote outstanding achievement in effective Christian preaching. It is one of the Acton Institute's many programs designed to assist future religious leaders in developing an understanding of the relationship between morality and the marketplace and becoming articulate proponents of a free and virtuous society.

About the Acton Institute

With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at