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Pope’s Address to Winners of the Ratzinger Prize

“The depth of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, solidly founded on Scripture and the Fathers, and always nourished by faith and prayer, helps us to remain open to the horizon of eternity, thus giving meaning also to our hopes and to our human commitments”

On Saturday, Pope Francis awarded two people with the “Ratzinger Prize,” instituted in 2011 by the “Joseph Ratzinger–Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.”

The winners this year:

– Monsignor Inos Biffi, Ordinary Emeritus of Systematic Theology and of the History of Medieval Theology at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy, docent of the same subjects at the Faculty of Theology of Lugano, Member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, President of the Institute for the History of Medieval Theology of Milan and Director of the Institute of History of Theology at the Faculty of Theology of Lugano.

– Professor Ioannis Kourempeles, born at Athens in 1965, he studied Theology at the Theological Faculty of Thessaloniki, Erlangen and Heidelberg. He teaches the History of Dogmas and Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology at the Faculty of Theology of the “Aristotle” University of Thessaloniki. He is the first Orthodox to be awarded the Ratzinger Prize.

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

* * *

Eminences, Excellencies,

Dear Brother Laureates,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to meet with you on such an important occasion, in the framework of the ends and activities of the Joseph Ratzinger–Benedict XVI Foundation. It is for me also a way of expressing once again with you our great affection for and gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who, also now, continues to accompany us with his prayer.

I congratulate you for the success of the International Symposium on the theme of Eschatology – Analysis and Perspectives, which took place in recent days at the University of the Holy Cross and which ended this morning at the “Augustinianum” with Cardinal Ravasi’s lecture. We know that the subject of Eschatology had an important place in the theological work of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, in his activity as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and finally also in his teaching during his Pontificate. We cannot forget his profound reflections on eternal life and on hope in the encyclical Spe Salvi. The subject of Eschatology is fundamental when one reflects on the meaning of our life and of our history, without remaining closed in a materialistic or, in any case, purely intra-mundane setting. The Jubilee of Mercy, which just ended, reminded us many times that mercy is the heart of the “protocol” on which Jesus says we will be judged: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink …” (Matthew 25:35). The depth of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, solidly founded on Scripture and the Fathers, and always nourished by faith and prayer, helps us to remain open to the horizon of eternity, thus giving meaning also to our hopes and to our human commitments. His is a fecund thought and teaching, which was able to concentrate on the fundamental references of our Christian life, the person of Jesus Christ, charity, hope <and> faith. And the whole Church will always be grateful to him.

However, as on the occasion of this meeting the 2016 Ratzinger Prize is awarded, I congratulate also the distinguished personalities to which the Foundation’s Scientific Committee attributed it. Hence, my congratulations go to Monsignor Inos Biffi, that, as we heard in the statement of reasons, receives the Prize as recognition of the merits of an entire life dedicated to theological studies in the Church and in her service: a Prize, so to speak, “to the career” of a great theologian; and to the younger Professor Ioannis Kourempeles, who receives the Prize in recognition of the quality of the theological work carried out up to now, in appreciation for his interest dedicated to Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, and as encouragement to continue to plumb the depth of the fecundity of the meeting between Ratzinger’s thought and Orthodox Theology.

Congratulations and best wishes to the Winners for their theological work, and to the Foundation for carrying out its task. May the Lord bless you always and your service for His Kingdom, and may He bless all of you here present and your dear ones. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

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