Published On: October 4, 2017

Sérgio Moro Lauded

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Judge Sérgio Moro was presented with the Notre Dame Award at a ceremony on October 2 in São Paulo. The Award was presented by the University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins. Judge Moro was cited for his courageous efforts to preserve the “nation’s integrity through his steadfast, unbiased application of the law.”

The award was given during a luncheon at the Fasano Hotel. Moro delivered his acceptance speech twice: first in English, then in Portuguese.

Moro is a federal judge in Curitiba who gained international recognition and commendation in recent years for his sentencing of powerful Brazilian politicians and business leaders on corruption charges. Most recently, as part of a four-year investigation of the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, he sentenced former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to nearly ten years in prison.

In presenting the prestigious award, Rev. Jenkins noted, “Previous Notre Dame Award recipients, each in their own way, have been pillars of conscience and integrity, and whose actions benefited their compatriots, and by example, the whole world, as they committed themselves to faith, justice, peace, truth, and solidarity with the most vulnerable. In Dr. Moro’s case, the University recognizes that by addressing the pernicious problems of public corruption in a judicious but diligent way, Dr. Moro has made a marked difference for all Brazilians and for humankind at large in our universal thirst for justice.”


University of Notre Dame campus in US

University of Notre Dame campus in US


Judge Moro has been modeling his approach to justice in Brazil on Italy’s “Clean Hands” corruption investigation of the 1990s. The New York Times has labeled Moro “the face of the national reckoning for Brazil’s ruling class.” Fortune magazine ranked him 13th on its list of World’s Greatest Leaders, and Time magazine included Moro on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Sérgio Moro was raised in Maringá in Paraná. He earned a Bachelor’s of Law degree from Maringá State University and a Ph.D. from the Federal University of Paraná. He studied abroad through an exchange program at Harvard Law School in 1998. Appointed to his current position in 1996, he participated in 2007 in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, visiting US agencies and institutions responsible for preventing and combating money laundering.

Last presented in 2000, Notre Dame University has relaunched this Award as part of its 175th-anniversary celebration. It was first awarded in 1992 in conjunction with Notre Dame’s sesquicentennial and has been given to “women and men whose lives and deeds have shown exemplary dedication to the ideals for which the University stands: faith, inquiry, education, justice, public service, peace, and care for the most vulnerable.” Previous recipients of the award include former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife, and Mother Teresa.

Sérgio Moro, in an interview after the awards ceremony, told Folha de São Paulo that the investigations carried out by the Lava Jato task force are close to the end, but that the anti-corruption movement in Brazil has taken on different shapes and will go down different paths. As far as wrapping up the operation goes, Judge Moro did not provide a specific date. “A great deal of work has been done, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any more work left.”

[Research for this article comes from the Notre Dame website and Folha de São Paulo.]

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