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For the first time, the Ratzinger Prize will be awarded to an African theologian


Prestigious award recognizes the important work of inculturation on the continent.

Jesuit priest Fr. Paul Béré will be awarded the Ratzinger Prize, announced Fr. Federico Lombardi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Benedict XVI-Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, at a press conference on September 30, 2019, in the Vatican. He is the first theologian from Africa to be awarded this prestigious prize.

Every year since 2011, the Benedict XVI-Joseph Ratzinger Foundation has been granting awards for work in the field of theology or related disciplines. The recipients are chosen by Pope Francis at the proposal of a council of experts composed of five members: the cardinals Kurt Koch, Gianfranco Ravasi and Luis Ladaria, of the Roman curia, as well as Cardinal Angelo Amato (retired) and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg (Germany).

Two candidates were selected this year by the council, as announced by Father Lombardi. One of them is from Burkina Faso: Fr. Béré. As Fr. Lombardi pointed out, Béré is the first African to receive the prestigious Ratzinger Prize. The Foundation’s wish, he explained at the press conference, was to highlight “African theology,” and in particular its important mission for the inculturation of the Gospel and the mission of evangelization on the African continent.

Father Béré joined the Society of Jesus in 1966 and did part of his studies at the Biblical Institute in Rome, where he now teaches. He is also a consultant at the Pontifical Council for Culture, presided over by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. Since 2018, he has also been a consultant at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Reflections on communitarianism

The Benedict XVI-Joseph Ratzinger Foundation has also chosen to reward “an international celebrity,” said Fr. Lombardi: philosopher Charles Margrave Taylor, Professor Emeritus at McGill University in Montreal (Canada). Already awarded numerous prizes, this Catholic thinker has participated in reflections on communitarianism and cosmopolitanism, as well as on the relationship between religions and modernity, Cardinal Ravasi stressed, and on the theme of secularization.

The Ratzinger Prize will be formally awarded to these two recipients by Pope Francis on November 9 at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. With these two new awards, some 20 prizes have been awarded since 2011 to recipients from 14 countries and four continents.

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