Vatican City, 26th November 2016 –“It is a way to express, once again with you, our great affection and thankfulness to the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who keeps following us with his prayers”. It is the meaning Pope Francis gives to Ratzinger Prize, that he has awarded to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The prize is given to scholars who have stood out for their scientific research in the theological field.
The celebration was held in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the end of the International Symposium “Eschatology: analysis and perspectives” promoted by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross of Rome. “We know that eschatology has always had a basic role in the theological work of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, in his activity as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in his magisterium during his Pontificate – Pope Francis underlined –. We cannot forget his deep considerations on eternal life and hope in the Encyclical Spe salvi”.
“The depth of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought, firmly founded upon Scripture and the Fathers, and always nourished by faith and prayer, helps us to remain open to the horizons of eternity, thus giving meaning even to our hopes and our human responsibilities, - the Holy Father said –. His fruitful thought and magisterium concentrated on the essential points of reference of our Christian life, the person of Jesus Christ, charity, hope, faith. And the whole Church will be grateful to him forever.”
The greetings of father Federico Lombardi – president of the Foundation from 1st August – opened the celebration. His mandate is “promoting theology as an ecclesial service and a reflection on the faith and in the faith from the inside, as the Pope Emeritus said during a beautiful meeting we had about two months ago. These are very important words, said by a man who was a Theology professor, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then the Pope. He faced up the responsibility of a man of thought who lives his own faith and reflects on it with the aim of serving the happiness of the announcement of the Gospel in the Church and the world”.
The profiles of the award winners have been presented by cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and member of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation.
Born in Lomagna (Lecco) in 1934, Msgr. Inos Biffi is full professor of Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology at the Theological University of Northern Italy and he teaches the same subjects at the Faculty of Theology of Lugano. He is also a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy, president of the Institute of History of Medieval Theology in Milan and head of the Institute of History of Theology at the Faculty of Theology of Lugano.
The Scientific Committee of the Foundation awarded Inos Biffi “in order to show scholars and the Church that his entire life was dedicated to the study of theology with significant scientific results in systematic theology but also patristics and history of theology and with wide horizons and the involvement in the life and the faith of the ecclesial community. These values have always inspired the theological work of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI” cardinal Koch explained.
Ioannis Kourempeles was born in Athens in 1965. He studied Theology at the Theological Faculties of Thessaloniki, Erlangen and Heidelberg. He teaches History of Dogmas and Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology at the Faculty of Theology of the “Aristotle” University of Thessaloniki. He is the first Orthodox who receives Ratzinger Prize.
The Scientific Committee of the Foundation awarded Ioannis Kourempeles “in order to stress the value of his theological activity in the first part of his career of research and teaching and to foster it further. We are praised to show our gratitude for the attention prof. Kourempeles has given to the thought of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI and to his patristic richness, demonstrating that they are suitable for theological research in the East and the West”, the cardinal said.
The scholars who were awarded with this prestigious prize in the past editions are: Manlio Simonetti, Olegario González de Cardedal and Maximilian Heim in 2011; Rémi Brague and Brian E. Daley in 2012; Richard A. Burridge and Christian Schaller in 2013; Anne-Marie Pelletier and Waldemar Chrostowski in 2014; Mario de França Miranda and Nabil el-Khoury in 2015.
Along with other members of the Scientific Committee and the Board of Directors of the Foundation, the celebration was attended by a lot of bishops and cardinals among which there were: the Dean of the College of Cardinals Angelo Sodano and some of the scholars who received the Prize in the past.