Francis' Message to Winners of Ratzinger Prize

«Benedict XVI did theology on his knees, and we all know it. And he has made it available in the most accessible way»

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Pope Francis on Saturday awarded two theologians with the Ratzinger Prize, an international recognition for exemplary work in theology, instituted in 2011 by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

This year’s recipients are Reverend Professor Richard A. Burridge, English Biblicist, Dean of King’s College, London, and Minister of the Anglican Communion, and Professor Christian Schaller, a layman and docent of Dogmatic Theology and Vice-Director of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute of Regensburg.

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to those present.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank you and am happy to meet with you, especially as a sign of our gratitude and great affection for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

I would like to share a reflection with you, which comes to me spontaneously when I think of the truly singular gift that he gave to the Church with the books on Jesus of Nazareth.

I remember that when the first volume came out some said: but what is this? A Pope doesn’t write theology books , he writes encyclicals! … Pope Benedict certainly posed this problem to himself, but also in that case, as always, he followed the Lord’s voice in his illumined conscience. With those books he did not give teaching in the proper sense, and did not do an academic study. He made the gift to the Church and to all men of what was most precious to him: his knowledge of Jesus, fruit of years and years of study, of theological reflection and of prayer. Because Benedict XVI did theology on his knees, and we all know it. And he has made it available in the most accessible way.

No one can measure how much good he has done with this gift; only the Lord knows it! However, all of us have a certain perception of it, because we have heard so many people who, thanks to the books on Jesus of Nazareth, have nourished their faith, have deepened it, or have actually approached Christ for the first time in an adult way, combining the needs of reason with the search for the face of God.

At the same time, Benedict XVI’s work has stimulated a new season of studies on the Gospels between history and Christology, on which your Symposium is also focused, whose organizers and reporters I congratulate.

Special congratulations, however, go to the Reverend Professor Richard Burridge and to Professor Christian Schaller, on whom the Ratzinger Prize was conferred this year. In the name also of my beloved Predecessor – with whom I was three or four days ago – I express to you heartfelt congratulations: may the Lord always bless you and your work at the service of His Kingdom.

And may He bless all of you, dear friends, and your dear ones. Thank you!

[Original text: Italian. Translation by ZENIT]
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