On November 17, 2017, Benedict XVI received the three laureates of the Ratzinger Prize in the Vatican: German Lutheran theologian Theodor Dieter; German theologian and Catholic priest Karl Heinz Menke, and Estonian sacred music composer Arvo Part.
According to a press released by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, the meeting was “very intense and serene.” The President of the Foundation, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, accompanied the three laureates.
Pope Francis will hand the Prize of this seventh edition on November 18 at the Vatican, with the participation of Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. During the ceremony, the work “Pater Noster,” which Arvo Part composed for Benedict XVI’s 60th anniversary of priesthood in 2011.
The composer, who will play on a piano that belonged to the Pope Emeritus, will be accompanied by a soloist of the “Boys’ Choir” of the Saint Cecilia National Academy. A note of the Foundation recalls that the prize awarded “for the first time” to an artist, expresses “Benedict XVI’s appreciation for music and all the arts, which bring men close to the Truth and foster the encounter with God.”
The Three Laureates
Theodor Dieter, born in 1951, is Professor and Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research of Strasbourg. Intensely engaged in the ecumenical dialogue, he had an important role in the redaction and approval of the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” of 1999. In 2012 he was rapporteur of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue during the meeting of former students of Benedict XVI at Castelgandolfo (Ratzinger-Schulerkreis).
Karl Heinz Menke, born in 1950, is Professor Emeritus of Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn. A member of Commissions of the German Episcopal Conference, he is the author of numerous theological publications. Profound connoisseur of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, since September 2014 he has also been a member of the International Theological Commission.
Arvo Part, born in 1935 in Paide, Estonia, is recognized at the international level. He received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and took part in the exhibition “Splendour of Truth, Beauty of Charity,” organized for the 60th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s priesthood. Since December 2011, he has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester