His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed papal honors upon 41 laywoman and laymen of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The Order of Saint Gregory the great was instituted on September 1, 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI in honor of his predecessor Pope Saint Gregory the Great. The Order was established during the period of rising Italian nationalism and conflict with the Papal States. The award is bestowed upon individuals of outstanding reputation and service to the Church and society, especially on the local level. The late Pope John Paul II was the first Supreme Pontiff to admit women to the Order in 1991.
The Equestrian Order of Pope Saint Sylvester was founded by Pope Gregory XVI on October 31, 1841. The award was established and initially joined to the Order of the Golden Spur in an effort to ensure that the honor was accorded only those of the best reputation. The award is bestowed upon those that have lived exemplary lives and have excelled in business, the professions and society.
The Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice (The Cross for the Church and Pontiff) is not a pontifical order but rather a papal award. It was founded by Pope Leo XIII on July 17, 1888 as an award to mark his fiftieth priestly jubilee. The award is granted to both clergy and laypersons for service to the Church. In the last century the award has been typically bestowed upon women.
The Benemerenti Medal (Good Merit) was bestowed by Pope Pius VI in 1791 as an award for military courage in defense of the Papal States. Originally intended as a military award in 1925 it is now an honor conferred upon those who have made significant contributions to the Church-civilian and military, lay and clergy alike.