Czech priest wins $1.83 million Templeton Prize

Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:54am EDT
 
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

(Reuters) - A Czech Catholic priest whose theology of paradox invites believers and atheists to dialogue has won the 2014 Templeton Prize, worth $1.83 million, for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.

Tomas Halik, who worked underground to promote democracy and morality before communism fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989, has "continuously opened vistas that advance humankind," the U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation said on Thursday in announcing the prize.

The award is one of the world's richest, worth more than the $1.2 million the Nobel Prize committee paid to its 2013 laureates. It honors a person who has contributed to "affirming life's spiritual dimension" through insights, discoveries or practical work.

Previous winners include the Dalai Lama, South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and British astrophysicist Martin Rees.

Since 1989, Halik has pursued his mission of dialogue with other believers and non-believers through his Czech Christian Academy, his work as chaplain at Prague's Charles University and his 17 books translated into 18 languages.

"The chief task of faith and theology is to teach the art of living amid life's paradoxes and the courage to enter the cloud of unknowing," he said in a speech in London where the Foundation announced the prize.

MOST ATHEIST COUNTRY

In his speech, Halik, 65, who was ordained secretly in East Germany in 1978, thanked his philosophy and theology professors, "many of whom spent long years in communist prison camps and had very little opportunity to write or publish."   Continued...