Activist-actor Martin Sheen to receive medal from Notre Dame for helping others


The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Activist-actor Martin Sheen will be honored by the University of Notre Dame with its Laetare Medal for his humanitarian work, the school announced Sunday.

Sheen, who starred as a U.S. president who was a Notre Dame graduate in NBC’s “The West Wing,” is to receive the medal at the school’s May 18 commencement.

Since 1883, the Laetare Medal has been awarded annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Recipients include President Kennedy, former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and former U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr.

Sheen has used his recognition as an actor to help others, said the university’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins.

“He has used that celebrity to draw the attention of his fellow citizens to issues that cry out for redress, such as the plight of immigrant workers and homeless people, the waging of unjust war, the killing of the unborn and capital punishment,” Jenkins said.

Sheen, 67, describes himself as a Catholic peace activist. He has been arrested for taking part in nonviolent demonstrations against various U.S. military policies, and has donated money and time to such causes as the alleviation of poverty and homelessness, human rights for migrant workers and environmental protection.