Also this year it will be the Pope himself who will award two researchers, said the president of the foundation that sponsors the award, Monsignor Giuseppe Antonio Scotti. The Pontiff “wishes to express in a simple and concrete way his own 'thank you’ to those who, in the darkness of the present time, spend themselves to make the splendor of truth shine, in profound communion with the Holy Father,” the prelate said.
The Prize was instituted by the Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, founded in March of 2010 by Benedict XVI. The first round of prizes was conferred June 30 of last year on theologians Manlio Simonetti, Olegario Gonzalez de Cardedal and Maximilian Heim.
The three laureates – an Italian layman, a Spanish priest and a German Cistercian monk, abbot of the well-known monastery of Heiligenkreuz (Austria) – were chosen for their theology, which remained “anchored in reality.”
In the course of the first award ceremony, held in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace, it was abbot Heim himself who gave the thanksgiving address, focused on the question “Who is a Professor of Theology?”
“A teaching theologian seeks to lead his pupil to an encounter with God. And from the moment that he himself is surrounded by this closeness, he teaches with joy, joy that is born also of love of the men entrusted to him,” said the youngest of the three awarded. “The teacher, in the true sense of the word, is Truth itself, Truth that, in the final analysis, is Christ."
During the same ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address explaining the importance of theology. He spoke of a use of reason that seeks for truth, a second usage of reason beyond experimental reason.
"When this type of reason is not used, the great questions of humanity fall outside the context of reason and are left to irrationality. This is why an authentic theology is so important. Right faith directs reason to open itself to the divine, so that, guided by love for the truth, it may know God more closely. The initiative for this journey is with God, who has placed in human hearts the desire to seek his Face. On the one hand humility, which lets itself be 'touched' by God, and on the other, the discipline bound to the order of reason that keeps love from blindness and helps to develop its visual power, are both part of theology."