illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear brothers and sisters!
I am happy to offer my greeting to all of you who have come for this ceremony. I thank Cardinal Ruini for his remarks along with Monsignor Scotti who introduced this gathering. I warmly congratulate Prof. Daley and Prof. Brague, who by their personalities illustrate this initiative in its second edition. And here I mean “personality” in the full sense: the character of the research and the whole scientific endeavor; the precious service of teaching, which both have undertaken for many years; but also their being, naturally in in different ways – one a Jesuit, the other a married layman – working in the Church, active in offering their qualified contribution to the Church’s presence in today’s world.
In this regard I noted something that led to some reflection, and that is that this year’s 2 recipients are competent and engaged in 2 matters that are decisive for the Church of our times: I am referring to ecumenism and the encounter with other religions. Father Daley, studying the Fathers of the Church in depth, has placed himself in the best school for knowing and loving the Church one and undivided but in the richness of her different traditions; thus he carries out a service of responsibility in relations with the Orthodox Churches. And Prof. Brague is a great scholar of the philosophy of religions, particularly the medieval Jewish and Islamic. Well, 50 years after Vatican Council II, I would like to re-read 2 conciliar documents with them: the declaration “Nostra Aetate,” on non-Christian religions, and the decree “Unitatis redintegratio,” on ecumenism, to which, however, I would add another document that has shown itself to be of extraordinary importance: the declaration “Dignitatis humanae” on religious freedom. Certainly it would be very interesting, dear Father and dear Professor, to listen to your reflections and also to your experiences in these fields in which a relevant part of the Church’s dialogue with the contemporary world takes place.
In fact, this ideal meeting already occurred in reading their publications, some of which are available in various languages. I feel a duty to express particular appreciation and gratitude for this labor of communicating the fruits of research. This is a grave but precious task for the Church and for those who work in the academic and cultural world. In this respect, I would simply like to underscore the fact that both of the recipients are university professors, very much involved in teaching. This element deserves to be highlighted, because it manifests something that is consistent with the activity of the Foundation, which, besides this award, offers scholarships for doctoral students in theology and sponsors academic conferences at universities, such as the one that was held this year in Poland, and the one that will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 3 weeks. Personalities such as Father Daley and Prof. Brague are exemplary in the transmission of a knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and a passion for man, to bring about the discovery of an “art of living.” And it is proper to people who, through an enlightened and lived faith, bring God closer and make him believable to man today, something that we need; people who look steadily to God and draw from this source true humanity to help those whom the Lord places along our path to understand that Christ is the way to life; people whose intellect is illuminated by the light of God so that they may be able to speak to the minds and hearts of others. They work in the vineyard of the Lord, where he calls us, so that the men and women of our time may discover and rediscover the truth “art of living”: this was also one of the great passions of Vatican Council II, which is more relevant than ever in the work of the new evangelization.
Again, from my heart, I offer my congratulations to the recipients and to the Foundation’s Board of Researchers and to all the collaborators in this projects. Thank you.[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]