The two laureates of the 2020 Ratzinger Prize are French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion and Australian Tracey Rowland. The Pope will award them the Prize on November 14, announced Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., at a press conference on Thursday, October 1. This is the tenth edition of the Prize.
The 2020 edition was presented, in fact, by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and member of the Scientific Committee of the Ratzinger Foundation, and by Father Lombardi, President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Father Lombardi said that the purpose of the press conference was to present the main activities of the Joseph Ratzinger- Benedict XVI Foundation in the course of this year 2020 and, in particular, to announce and present the two “laureates” of the 2020 Ratzinger Prize.
The Foundation’s Objectives
Father Lombardi recalled that the Foundation was created in 2010, to promote studies and publications on the work and thought of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI and, more generally, to promote theological studies and connected disciplines.”
He specified that the concrete initiatives indicated by the Statute are pointed, primarily, in three directions: 1. Prizes for researchers and meritorious works; 2. Study conferences and meetings and publications; 3. Grants for doctorates. “
Father Lombardi added that the “laureates” are proposed to Pope Francis by the Scientific Committee (which includes five members: Cardinals A. Amato, K. Koch, G. Ravasi, L. Ladaria and the Bishop of Regensburg, Monsignor Rudolf Voderholzer, and approved by him.”
Father Lombardi expressed his hope for the awards ceremony. “We hope that the ceremony will be able to take place despite the pandemic. In case of cancellation due to a force majeure, namely, the impossibility of the two winners taking part, the Prize will be attributed in the same way for 2020, but the winners will be invited to take part and receive their diploma with the laureates of next year, in 2021.”
He also recalled the Budapest Symposium. “Before the beginning of the pandemic, we were able to organize the 9th International Symposium promoted by the Foundation. It took place in Budapest on October 8-9, in collaboration with the “Pazmany Peter” Hungarian Catholic University, and is focused on the theme “The Economic, Social and Spiritual Situation of Central European Countries in the Light of the Doctrine of the Church.” The place and theme clearly topical, in the present European context, were chosen on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Presidents represented diverse countries of the Central European area (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine . . . ), but University students of Western Europe also participated. Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest presented the first Report; Monsignor Roland Minnerath, Archbishop of Dijon and Pontifical Academician presented the second, and Professor Hanna Suchocka, former Prime Minister of Poland and Pontifical Academician, the third. Among the other speakers were the President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Stefano Zamagni, and Professor Hans Joas of the Humboldt University of Berlin. The Acts are being prepared.”
The Acts of International Seminars
Father Lombardi also pointed out that the Acts of the previous Symposium were published, unabridged, in English by Franciscan University Press, under the title: “Fundamental Rights and Conflicts between Rights. The subject is very important. Unfortunately, the pandemic has hindered the planned presentation of initiatives.”
He also mentioned the “Open Reason” Prize, which is in its fourth edition, in collaboration with Madrid’s Francisco de Vitoria University, awarded every year to certain works that realize the Ratzinger idea of “open treason,” namely of dialogue in action between different disciplines, in particular the Sciences (Mathematical, Natural, Human) and Philosophy and Theology.
Impossible Awards Ceremony
The international jury identified this year, in the “Research Section,” a great collective work on the vision of man (from a psychological, philosophical, and theological . . . point of view” A Catholic Christian Meta-Model of the Person: Integration of Psychology and Mental Health Practice (Editors: D. Paul, C. Vitz, D. William, J. Nordling, D. Craig, Steven Titus of the Divine Mercy University); Human Embryos Human Beings. A Scientific and Philosophical Approach, by Samuel and Maureen Condic (Utah University) and the study What’s the Matter? Toward a Neo-Aristotelian Ontology of Nature, by William M. R. Simpson (Cambridge University).
Awarded in the ‘Teaching” Section, is the work Teaching Character Virtues: A Neo-Aristotelian Approach (with connected educational programs), by James A. Arthur (Birmingham University).
Father Lombardi said that, unfortunately, the awards ceremony, accompanied by a study seminar with the participation of the laureates, could not be organized this year — at least up to the present — and is limited to an Internet seminar, organized by the Francisco de Vitoria University
In any case, the initiative is very alive, as reflected by the number of works nominated for the Prize (122), well over a hundred as every year, the number of Universities represented (96), and the internationality of the authors (from 15 different countries) in the main, but not exclusively, of the Iberian area and of the two Americas. The works presented are almost all in English or Spanish,” he added.
Things are also moving in Europe. In the area of Central and Eastern Europe, another initiative of collaboration was developed, this time with the Nicholas Copernicus University of the Polish State of Torun, Copernicus’ city, here, too, the form of the Prize what chosen – in this case, called Ratio et Spes, “Reason and hope” — choosing a specific theme every year and selecting the subject, with the collaboration of an international group of experts, one or two scientific articles of particular value. The awards ceremony took place on the occasion of Poland’s National Day of Science, which falls on February 19. So in 2020 we succeeded in organizing the first awards ceremony just before the unleashing of the pandemic. The theme was ‘Artificial Intelligence and Its Applications: The Possibilities and the Questions It Poses Today for Humanity.” The work of a researcher at Boston’s famous MIT with his research group (T. Poggio, A. Banburski, Q. Liao) was rewarded. The subject of the second edition currently underway concerns the problems of the environment. The group of experts has already proceeded to the selection of works and is now waiting for the decision of the Scientific Committee, which will be designated, in keeping with the Statute, as soon as the new Rector of the University of Torun is elected. The fact that our Foundation has begun an experience of qualified cultural collaboration with a prestigious State University is very appreciated by the Church in Poland,” he said.
Father Lombardi mentioned other initiatives. “In the course of the last months of last year, the Foundation also organized — in collaboration with the Holy See’s Observer at UN organizations in Rome (FAO, FIDA, PAM), a series of seminars on the theme of “Ethical Leadership,” given the present international problems. The first involved the participants in the Amazonian Synod in the courtyard of Paul VI Hall; the two others were held at FAO and FIDA respectively.”
“A quarter had to be canceled due to the beginning of the pandemic, regretted again Father Lombardi. In any case, the speakers’ interventions in the three seminars held were of a high level (they were University professors, functionaries of international organizations, diplomats, etc.), so that their publication in a collective volume is now underway, which will be added to those of the Acts of international talks. A series of contacts is on-going with the Pontifical Universities and Madrid’s Francisco de Vitoria in view of future new initiatives in this area.”
Cancellation of Beirut 2020
Father Lombardi envisioned alternatives if the pandemic continues to disturb initiatives of the Foundation. “If the initiatives of Prizes and publications, as well as the attribution of annual grants for doctorates, was able to be pursued despite the pandemic, what unfortunately had to be canceled was this year’s International Symposium, which was planned for Beirut, and which began to be prepared, between the end of last year and the beginning of this year, then years after the special Symposium on the Middle East, called by Benedict XVI, to reflect on the situation of the Church and of Christians in the region, on the dialogue with Islam and on engagement for peace, in the light of the teaching and initiatives of the last Popes — John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.”
He explained the meaning of the choice of Beirut. “The choice of Beirut also had an evident sense of solidarity with the peoples and religious communities in a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, the unleashing of the pandemic made it impossible to pursue the preparation. Added to it is the truly critical situation in Lebanon and the disaster of the explosion in the Beirut port. We are truly very saddened. We hope to be able to take up this initiative in the future, not only because of its cultural importance but also for the sake of solidarity, which we proposed.
In 2021 the Symposium might be held in the United States. “It would be the first time that the Foundation organizes a Symposium in the United States and, therefore, on that occasion the theme would focus on the theological thought of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI. We hope that the pandemic or other difficulties do not impede us from carrying out this beautiful project.
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