The first “Ratzinger Prize” awarded to a patrologist and two theologians

Source: FSSPX News

On June 30, 2011, Benedict XVI presented for the first time the Joseph Ratzinger Prize, instituted by the “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation”, to three scholars.  The academic committee of this foundation is headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.  The recipients are the Cistercian Father Maximilian Heim, Abbot of Heiligenkreuz [Holy Cross] Monastery in Bavaria (Germany), a 50-year-old professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology, a Spanish priest, Fr. Olegario González Hernández de Cardedal, a 77-year-old theology professor, and Professor Manillo Simonetti, an 85-year-old Italian layman who is an expert in ancient Christian literature and patrology.

With many cardinals and dicastery officials in attendance, along with his brother Georg, Benedict XVI explained that “experimental reason largely appears today as the sole form of rationality that is declared scientific,” inasmuch as “what cannot be scientifically proven or disproven falls outside the scientific sphere.”  “That this [position] is right and necessary in the context of the knowledge of nature and of its laws no one would seriously question,” the pope conceded.  “Yet there is a limit to such a use of reason: God is not an object for human experimentation.”  He is concerned about the existence of a “despotism of reason which makes itself the supreme and ultimate judge of all things.  This kind of use of reason is certainly impossible in the context of faith.”

Citing St. Bonaventure, Benedict XVI explained that there is “a second use of reason that applies to the context of the ‘personal’, to the important questions implied by actually being human.”  He recalled that “the Fathers of the Church found the precursors and forerunners of Christianity…not in the context of formal religion, but on the contrary in human beings in search of God, in search of the truth, in the ‘philosophers’: in people who were thirsting for truth and were therefore on their way towards God.”  The Supreme Pontiff warned that “When this type of reason is not used, the great questions of humanity fall outside the context of reason and are left to irrationality.”

During his address, Benedict XVI emphasized that “Christian faith, by its very nature, must bring theology into being, must question itself on the reasonableness of faith—although of course the concept of reason and that of science embrace many dimensions.”

The Ratzinger Prize, instituted in November 2010, consists of a diploma and a check for 50,000 Euros.  The 2.4 million Euros available to the Foundation consist of one half of the royalties from the books written by Joseph Ratzinger before and after his elevation to the papacy.

During a press conference on June 14, Cardinal Ruini had explained that the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation planned also to award in the near future a prize for research into Sacred Scripture.  The objective is to promote the knowledge and the study of theology, a discipline that has been reluctant to dialogue with the other branches of knowledge since the process of secularization started in the seventeenth century.  In a way it is a matter of promoting dialogue between faith and culture, after the blatant divorce of profane sciences from sacred science brought about by modernity.  For Benedict XVI, science does not have a monopoly on knowledge, and Christian thinkers have the mission of posing the fundamental questions to society.  (Sources: apic/imedia/fondazioneratzinger/VIS/radiovatican - DICI no. 239 dated August 13, 2011)