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Theological Notebook: Brian Daley, S.J. Awarded the Ratzinger Prize

L'Osservatore Romano published this English translation of the presentation of the Ratzinger Prize by Pope Benedict XVI to an old friend of mine from my Notre Dame days, Jesuit Patristics scholar Brian Daley, S.J., earlier this week, whose book on eschatology (The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology) in the first several centuries of the Church was a key text in bringing me back to Catholicism, and which I'd read late in my undergraduate. Not only is that an admittedly odd route to answering the Christian denominational question, I also couldn't remember the name of the author of the book when I was describing it one night to Brian over sandwiches at Marci's Deli before we went to catch a showing of The River Wild. He looked slightly poleaxed, and then modestly sheepish as he dipped his head and said, "I... I wrote that." "Get outta town!" A funny memory. Anyway, with both his work in early Christianity and in his dialogue work with Orthodoxy Christianity, I couldn't be more pleased with his selection as a winner of the Prize.

The presentation of the Ratzinger prize to Jesuit patristic scholar Brian Daley and philosopher Rémi Brague
Discovering the Art of Living

The presentation of the Ratzinger Prize - considered the Nobel of Theology - took place on Saturday morning, 20 October, in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. During the ceremony Benedict XVI presented the prize to American patristic scholar Fr Brian Daley, SJ, and to French philosopher Prof. Rémi Brague. Fr Daley is the Catherine F. Huisking Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and Prof. Brague is Professor of the Philosophy of European Religions at Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich.

Venerable Brothers, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to address my greeting to all of you who have gathered at this ceremony. I thank Cardinal Ruini for his address, as well as Mons. Scotti who has introduced this meeting. I warmly congratulate Fr Daley and Prof. Brague who with their personalities add distinction to this initiative that is taking place for the second time. And I mean "personalities" in the full sense: the aspect of research and of all scientific work; the valuable service of teaching that they have both carried out for many years; and also, in different ways of course - one is a Jesuit, the other a married layman - their being committed in the Church, actively making their qualified contribution to the Church's presence in today's world.

In this regard I noticed something which made me think; namely, that both the prizewinners this year are competent in and involved in two aspects crucial to the Church in our times. I am referring to ecumenicism and to the comparison with other religions. Fr Daley, with his in-depth study on the Fathers of the Church, has chosen the best school for knowing and loving the one and undivided Church, also in the wealth of her different traditions; for this reason in addition he is carrying out a responsible service in our relations with the Orthodox Churches. And Prof. Brague is a great scholar of the philosophy of religions, in particular of Judaism and of Islam in the Middle Ages. Thus 50 years after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council I would like to reinterpret with them two of the Council documents: the Declaration Nostra Aetate on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, and the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio on Ecumenism, to which, however, I would add another document that has proven to be of extraordinary importance: the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae on Religious Liberty. It would certainly be most interesting, dear Father and dear Professor, to hear your thoughts and your experiences in these areas where an important part of the Church's dialogue with the contemporary world takes place.

Actually, on reading your publications, some of which are available in various languages, makes this ideal encounter and comparison already take place. I feel it is my duty to express special appreciation of and gratitude for this effort to communicate the fruits of such research. It is a commitment that is difficult but of value to the Church and to all who work in the academic and cultural milieu. In this regard, I would simply like to emphasize the fact that both prizewinners are university professors, deeply committed to teaching. This aspect deserves to be highlighted because it illustrates the consistent policy and work of the Foundation which, in addition to the Prize, sponsors scholarships for those working on doctorates in theology, as well as study symposiums at university level, such as the one held this year in Poland and the one that will take place in Rio de Janeiro in three weeks' time.

Scholars such as Fr Daley and Prof. Brague are exemplary figures for the transmission of a knowledge that combines science and wisdom, scientific rigour and a passion for man, so that one may discover the "art of living". And this is a feature of people who, through an enlightened faith and life bring God close and credible to the people of today. This is what we need: people who keep their gaze fixed on God, drawing from this source true humanity to help those whom the Lord sets on our path to understand that Christ is the way of life; people whose intellect is illuminated by God's light, so that they may also speak to the mind and heart of others.

Working in the Lord's vineyard, where he calls us, so that the men and women of our time may discover and rediscover the true "art of living": this was another great passion of the Second Vatican Council and one which increasingly forms part of the commitment to the new evangelization.

I warmly renew my congratulations to the prizewinners, as well as to the Scientific Committee of the Foundation and to all the co-workers. Many thanks.

(©L'Osservatore Romano - 24 october 2012)

American priest celebrates receiving Ratzinger award in Rome
By Matthew A. Rarey

Rome, Italy, Oct 22, 2012 / 01:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An American priest and scholar who was awarded the annual Ratzinger Prize for Theology by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 20 was both thrilled and surprised to receive the honor.

“It was a total surprise for me, but I'm really touched that they would think of me for this and that it would bear the name of our present Holy Father, whom I have always admired a lot,” said Father Brian Daley, a Jesuit professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

The 72-year-old shared the honor with French Catholic lay philosopher, Remi Brague.

“Fr. Daley and Professor Brague are exemplary for the transmission of knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and passion for man, so that man might discover the true 'art of living,'” the Pope said at the Vatican ceremony.

Established in 2010 by the Joseph Ratzinger Vatican foundation, the award is described as an effort to “promote the publication, distribution, and study of the writings” of the former university professor, known today as Pope Benedict XVI.

In an interview with CNA after Saturday's event, Fr. Daley reflected that the winners of the prestigious award tend to be those “who do the kind of theology and philosophy that the Holy Father himself is interested in.”

Pope Benedict, he noted, has “worked for so many years on the Church fathers and medieval theology – he has a wonderful book on Augustine, he has one on St. Bonaventure – and then also on the interface between faith and philosophy, faith and reason.”

“I studied the early Church,” he added, and co-recipient Remi Brague “works on the relationship of religion and faith within a democracy and modern culture, with both Islam and Christianity.”

“So, I think these are both things that the person of the Holy Father is very interested in.”

Fr. Daley, a scholar specializing in the early Church fathers, said these formative theologians and pastors should serve to inspire Christians of every age and advance the work of the New Evangelization, the topic being addressed at the bishops' synod currently underway in Rome and ending Oct. 28.

“I think there is that liberating effect” in reading about the early Church, he said.

“Many of the people we read, as Church fathers, are really good theologians – highly sophisticated people of many different skills and outlooks. They were not uniform. But they presented different approaches to making sense of the Christian faith in their own time.”

Touching on the role theology plays in the modern world, Fr. Daley said “we're always thinking about how we can make sense, how we can give account for the faith that we share.”

“Theology does that. What I do is one part of doing that. Seeing theology as something alive, that draws on its past but is constantly thinking about itself, enables us to continue that process with more freedom.”?

The award ceremony was not the first time Fr. Daley has met the Pope – the two became acquainted when he was studying theology in Germany and met the future pontiff at a seminar in 1970.

“He spoke on the subject of Christology; who is Christ for us?” Fr. Daley recalled. “It was a little group, maybe 20 people in all. And we all had dinner together and Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated Mass for us every day.”

“It was a very intimate gathering. I don’t know if he remembers my presence there, but I definitely remember his. I never dreamed he'd be Pope.”
Tags: benedict xvi, books, catholicism, daley, notre dame, patristics, teachers, theological notebook, vatican

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