Christopher Coons ’92 M.A.R., ’92 J.D.

2022Lux et Veritas

The Lux et Veritas is awarded for excellence and distinction in applying the compassion of Christ to the diverse needs of the human condition through the wider church, ecumenical organizations, not-for-profit groups, government, or industry. We proudly give the award this year to Sen. Chris Coons.

Sen. Chris Coons is the junior U.S. senator from Delaware and known for skills in very short supply today: he endeavors to reach out to the other side, hoping to overcome divisions that are paralyzing the nation. He’s a Democrat who prays with Republican colleagues, sponsors bipartisan legislation, and keeps in mind that opponents are finally not ideologues but people, individuals made in God’s image.

His spiritual politics were formed decades ago. After receiving his Yale MAR and Yale law degrees, he volunteered as a relief worker in South Africa before returning to the U.S. to work for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York. He worked also as in-house counsel for a manufacturer and served with several nonprofit organizations.

Meanwhile, a personal odyssey in electoral politics was unfolding. Early on he was a Republican before switching to the Democratic Party in college. By 2000, he was elected in Delaware to the New Castle County Council, then served as county executive. In 2010 he won the special election to the U.S. Senate after Joe Biden resigned the seat to become vice president. He won a full term in 2014 and now chair the Senate Ethics Committee, as well as serve on the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. He also works to advance LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and racial justice. 

It’s a busy schedule—but on Wednesday mornings he can be found attending the Senate Prayer Breakfast, where about 25 Democrats and Republicans hope to build mutual trust. There he practices personally what the nation must somehow learn: he finds ways to connect with people he’s likely to disagree with, discovering a shared humanity that might make healing the common good a possibility.

In Reflections journal in 2018, he wrote: “What we do every Wednesday morning is seek out the real people behind the simplistic labels, the man or woman with whom we’ll have to have difficult conversations on the Senate floor or the committee room later that day. That can be hard for anyone, and it’s only possible through a willingness to be truly honest and even vulnerable not only to friends, but also rivals and enemies.”