Winners of Ratzinger Prize Announced

New Honor to Promote Theological Studies

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2011 ( The first three winners of the Ratzinger Prize for Theology are an Italian layman, Manlio Simonetti; a Spanish priest, Olegario González de Cardedal; and a German Cistercian, Father Maximilian Heim, all chosen because their theology is anchored in reality.

The Ratzinger Prize was inaugurated by the new Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, founded last March.

These first three winners will get their prize — €50,000 ($70,000) — from the Holy Father on June 30. The ceremony will include an address from Father Heim and from the Pontiff.

The winners were presented Tuesday by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Ratzinger Prize committee.

The foundation and the Ratzinger Prize are funded in part by revenues from the Pope’s books. But Monsignor Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, noted how one of the first private donors — a French woman — sent a €500 check with a note saying the foundation is «something new and full of future.» 

Cardinal Ruini indicated that prize winners are evaluated on theological excellence, regardless of fame. The award also hopes to recognize up-and-coming scholars. Furthermore, the cardinal explained, the criteria do not dictate that the candidate be Catholic.

Simonetti, 85, is an expert of ancient Christian literature and patristics. He is «one of the principal authorities in the matter of research on primitive Christianity,» Cardinal Ruini said.

Father González de Cardedal, 76, is a systematic theologian. He is a member of the International Theological Commission, and has worked primarily on the Trinity and Christology, on the relations between theology and anthropology, and in particular on the confrontation between faith and unbelief.

Father Maximilian Heim, 50, is the abbot of the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria. He is a professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology. He is a member of the new circle of Ratzinger students and oversees the publication of his complete works.

[Reporting by Anita Bourdin]
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