My first word of gratitude must go to the Lord for having inspired Mr. Templeton to create this Foundation. And my second word of thanks must go to Mr. Templeton for having accepted this inspiration of which I myself am the beneficiary today.
ʻThe objective of the Templeton Prize — as we know it — is to stimulate the knowledge and love of God on the part of mankind everywhere. Such an attitude and such a relationship have their own intrinsic value.’
In stressing that we are created to know, to love and to serve God — and to make him known and loved and served, Mr. Templeton has given his Foundation a message for mankind.
In a world where the idea of civilization is so often reduced to mere progress in comfort, in wealth, in power, it is important that the role and the place of religion should be stressed, to re-establish the right scale of values.
All of us are grateful for Mr. Templeton’s initiative, for his vision, for his spiritual courage.
The Templeton Prize is awarded on the decision of a panel of nine judges, who are representative of the major faiths of the world today. My thanksgiving goes especially to those distinguished judges for their kindness to me. I see in their decision, for myself, an invitation from the Lord to open more and more my personal religious concern to the full dimension of humanity and the world’s religions.
The Conditions of Society Today
Wherever men believe in a supreme, immanent and transcendent Being, in a Supreme Lover of men, we find the deepest ground of human fellowship, we discover the final basis for peace and brotherhood among men.
And who will deny that peace is the most urgent need of mankind? When we look at the world of today, we cannot avoid that a feeling of anguish, even sometimes of despair, comes over us. Where are we going? What will happen with mankind if tomorrow somebody just pushes a button to bring about the apocalyptic nuclear explosion? What will happen tomorrow to a human being, if society can and will manipulate a person from conception till the end of human life and if the collectivity can decide in supreme liberty, without reference to any higher moral principles, what is right or wrong? Where are we going when moral pollution is increasing everyday? More than ever we feel the need to recognize all together that there is a power, stronger than nuclear energy, the loving presence of a Supreme Spirit, who guides mankind.
The stability of a building depends on its foundation and its cornerstone. And God is still today the origin and the end of man and society. The man who denies God repeats the actions of Samson and brings down the edifice around him. It is not possible to build up humanity first and then give it to God, as one might first erect a building, and afterwards decide on the use to which it shall be put. If the stones of society are to hold together, they must be buttressed on God. It is an illusion to believe that human society can stand independent of the Creator.
Hans Anderson tells the story of a spider which, after spinning a beautiful web, thought to free itself from the thread which fastened it to the branch, and snapped the seemingly unnecessary link. The result was that the web fell to pieces, because its centre and heart had been tom out. It is the same for human society centred on God. Adhesion to God brings about social cohesion; the vertical line is essential to the stability of the cross threads.
The world is sick unto death of its atheism. That is the tragedy of our time. It is not true, as is sometimes said, that men cannot organize a world without God. But what is true is that a world without God can only end by being a world hostile to men. We have reached that stage today. Since men have ceased to know God, they have more and more to be defended against one another — homo homini lupus (man is a wolf to man). The depths of inhumanity marked by the sinister symbol of the concentration camps show the extent to which the world is thrown off its axis, has lost its centre of cohesion and unity. When man has obstinately rejected God, the direst fate that can overtake man is to be delivered over to man.
Some years ago, Carl Jung wrote a famous statement that has been repeated often since, showing by his own experience as a psychologist how God is the vital source of our being, our ‘innermost self’. In his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul, he said these striking words: ‘During the past thirty years, people from all the civilized countries of earth have consulted me. . . Among my patients in the second half of life — that is to say over thirty-five years — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that everyone of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers. Not one of them has been really healed who had not regained this religious outlook.’
The Ecumenical Purpose of the Prize
It is not only my duty to express my deep gratitude to all of you who take an active part in this ceremony, but I wish also to explain to you what I intend to do with the money so graciously given to me. I will use it to support a centre for unity and spiritual renewal in my own city of Brussels.
Spent in this way, I hope it will contribute to bringing nearer and nearer to each other all those who believe in God, and especially all those who believe in Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We know how difficult it is to build bridges, but the Lord is asking us — with impatient patience — to hasten the day of visible unity among all Christians. We know too that such a task will not be the result of a merely human dialogue between men of goodwill nor that this unity could be the result of some diplomatic compromise. The ground of our unity lies deeper, our unity is to be found in the heart and in the truth of God Himself; our unity will be the fruit of our spiritual renewal and of intense and common prayer. It has been said: ‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.’ I think this is profoundly true. In my opinion prayer and adoration are essential and decisive elements on our way towards visible unity between all Christians.
Being one, visibly, in prayer, we will be one in a new and powerful way in a common apostolic, social and political action, for the service of the world. We need unity between those who are impatient with prayer, contemplation or worship and who think them to be outmoded and who look to the service of God solely in social and political activism and those who turn rather to mysticism, prayer, contemplation, hungry for union with a reality beyond our narrow immediate limits. We need to bring together those two trends of mind, the political as well as the mystical.
They all belong together. ‘The witness of social and political activism, and the witness of prayer and contemplation desperately need each other.’
These words have been said by Bishop Ramsey and we gladly subscribe to them. United, we will have to face together the world and to offer it what it needs the most: an answer to the social problems of the man of today and an answer to the problems of the man of all times and of all countries, the eternal man hungry for God.
To express it in terms of my own faith, let me say that we have:
to give, at the same time, man-made bread and the Bread of life;
to teach the sciences of men and the science of God;
to offer social security and deep belief in the Providence of God;
to stress the value of work and the value of prayer, the need for social pioneers and for saints, the duty to enter with expectant faith in the silence of the Upper Room and to come out of the Upper Room with the power of the Spirit, into the market place, to proclaim the good news of the Gospel, to hasten the day of glory and joy, announced by the Lord when ‘from East and West people will come, from North and South, for the feast is in the Kingdom of God’ (Luke 13: 29).