Tomáš Halík took over the Templeton Prize
London: “Professor Halík does not seek easy answers only. He strives to think thoroughly about the eternal truth and share it with the others, so that people from all spiritual and cultural traditions – and even atheists – could find new and deeper ways to express it,” said John Templeton, Jr. during the ceremony. It took place at the St. Martin in the Fields church at the Trafalgar Square and was attended by Czech cardinals Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague, and Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague as well as by Msgr. Tomáš Holub, secretary general of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, and Daniel Herman, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
In his speech, Msgr. Halík spoke about questions related to faith and interreligious dialogue. He also mentioned the question whether Britain is a Christian country, recently discussed in the United Kingdom. “[Such statements] are bound to provoke the question: What do you mean by them? And what conclusions do you draw from them? What form of Christianity could help our world to be a better place for the lives of all – both Christians and non-Christians, both believers and atheists?” he asked.
Commenting the current events in Ukraine, he then warned against the danger of Russian nationalism and “imperial dreams”: “In the light of the dangerous developments in Eastern Europe we must be aware of our responsibility for preserving and enhancing the great project of a united Europe. The strong political integration of Europe is the only protection for the European nations, not only against external dangers but even more so against an explosion of barbarism within, against the extreme nationalism, chauvinism and xenophobia that are once more raising their ugly heads in the countries of Europe,” he stated.
According to Halík, a certain model of multiculturalism based on the principle of tolerance resulted not in a community of citizens, but in a conglomeration of ghettoes: “‘Let everyone live as they like, so long as they don’t disturb or restrict others.’ […] That sort of tolerance is fine for people living alongside each other, but not for people living together,” warned Halík.
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.