Prof. Tomáš Halík, a Czech priest and philosopher who risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country, and has since become a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers, has won the 2014 Templeton Prize.
Prof. Tomáš Halík studied Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology at the Charles University in Prague and attended secret courses of Theology and Religion Science in Prague. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, he studied at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He habilitated for the Practical Theology at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw, Poland, and in 1997, he became professor of the Sociology of Religion at the Charles University.
In 1978, Tomas Halik was secretly ordained priest in Erfurt, German Democratic Republic, by Bishop Hugo Aufderbeck in his private chapel. For the next 11 years, he was a close assistant of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, archbishop of Prague, in the "underground Church". He worked as a psychotherapist of the drug addicted people. When the Velvet Revolution brought end to the Communist regime in 1989, Tomas Halik was named the first secretary general of the Bishops' Conference of Bohemia and Moravia. He also started to teach at the Charles University, established the university pastoral care at the church of the Most Holy Savior in Prague (today Academic Parish of Prague) and was elected president of the Czech Christian Academy; the organization today has 72 local groups throughout the Czech Republic. In his service of the university students' pastor, he has introduced into the Church some 800 adult people, mostly students.
Pope John Paul II appointed Tomas Halik adviser of the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers. He was also a consultant of President Vaclav Havel. In 1990-2008, he made several journeys throughout all 6 continents, he took part in the Antarctic expedition and hold guest lectures at Oxford and Cambridge – among others.
Father Tomas Halik is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and several scientific institutions and a former Visiting Fellow at St Edmund's College Cambridge. His specialization is interreligious dialogue and dialogue with the secular world. In 1997, he was given the American Tolerance Award, in 1998 the Cardinal Konig Prize and in recent years he was conferred several other literature prizes in the Czech Republic as well as abroad. Books of Tomas Halik contain a spiritual diagnose of our times, even in the secular Czech Republic they are bestsellers and are published in many foreign languages – two of them will be issued in the Doubleday next year.
The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional
contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. The announcement was made at a news conference at the British Academy in London.