Msgr Halík first Czech to receive the Templeton Prize
London: In his speech on this occasion, Halík recalled his teachers, philosopher Jan Patočka and theologian Josef Zvěřina, both persecuted by the communist regime. He said that they had specially contributed to the encouragement of spiritual freedom under communism in the Czech Republic. “This exceptional award obligates me to bear the light and joy to all people of good will,” he also said.
Cardinal Dominik Duka, president of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, said that “awarding the Templeton Prize to Tomáš Halík is a significant and joyful moment for the Czech Church and the entire nation. It testifies that Central Europe is not only a place where religion, theology and thinking in general was suppressed in history, but also a place with authors, who can address readers in the Czech Republic, in Europe and on other continents with their thinking. I would like to express my congratulations and thanks to Tomáš Halík on behalf of the entire Czech Bishops’ Conference,” added Cardinal Duka
The prize will be conveyed to Halík in May 2014, the ceremony usually takes place in the Buckingham Palace and is attended by the members of the Royal Family.
The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, the Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine. During its existence, it has been awarded to Mother Teresa, the Taizé community founder Roger Schütz, writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and in 2013 to South African archbishop and the apartheid opponent Desmond Tutu. For more information, see the website of the Templeton Prize.
Tomáš Halík, aged 65, is a Catholic priest, a philosopher, sociologist, theologian and religionist whose books have been translated into several languages. During the Czech transition to democracy in the late 1980s and the 1990s, he was a consultant to then President Václav Havel and Cardinal František Tomášek.
At present, Halík is philosophy and sociology professor at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague and priest of the Academic Parish in Prague. He won the prize for Europe’s best theological book in 2011 and the prestigious Romano Guardini Prize in 2010. The Templeton Foundation pointed out that Halík has become an internationally respected personality promoting the dialogue among different faiths and non-believers and an advocate of religious tolerance and understanding. His website: halik.cz
Source: ČBK, ČTK, www.templetonprize.org