Your Royal Highness, it is a great honour for the City of London that the first award of the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion should be presented in our Guildhall, and that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has kindly consented to make this presentation.
His Royal Highness requires no introduction in Guildhall but we do thank you, Sir, for finding time in your busy life to be here this evening.
It gives me special pleasure to welcome, on behalf of you all, Mr. and Mrs. John Templeton. Without Mr. Templeton’s imagination and generosity there would be no prize — and although we well know that that would in no way have changed Mother Teresa’s dedication, it is fitting that the field of Religious Progress should be recognized and the Templeton Foundation Award will, we all trust, inspire mankind to further the quest for that quality of life which mirrors its religious ideals.
Mr. Templeton is no stranger in this country. He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and gained there the degree of Master of Arts (in law) to add to his many academic distinctions, and we are glad that it is here in England that he will see his first prize awarded.
You will know that this Prize is unique in that it crosses all traditional, religious doctrinaire barriers. It is a great pleasure therefore to welcome leaders and representatives from many religious beliefs here this evening. The judges have included Christians of several denominations — a Hindu, a Muslim, and a Buddhist, and all are noted for their interest in relations between the world religions. Not all are able to be present tonight but of their number we welcome the Reverend Dr Blake, (former) General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Dr Woods, the Anglican Bishop of Worcester, and Lord Thurlow, a distinguished Anglican layman.
I believe that the City of London is an appropriate setting for this ceremony. Going back in time until the City of London (as we know it) was London, we have a long tradition of liberal learning. The earliest schools were attached to the City Churches and there was from the first a special concern for ‘poor scholars’. Later, individual citizens and guilds founded schools all over the country, often extensions of an original city religious foundation. Thus, we have helped to prepare men’s minds for — to quote from the Objectives of the Templeton Foundation — ‘a deeper spiritual awareness and a better understanding of the meaning of life’.
In another field too, the City’s activities are relevant. So many of the old foundations jealously preserved here are of a charitable nature — as is the Foundation of Mr Temple-ton. Our charitable foundations have, over the centuries, helped great numbers of people — often without regard to religion or race — and it is a pleasure therefore to be the host, so to speak, for this admirable ‘newcomer’.
I have said nothing so far about the most important person here tonight — Mother Teresa. This is because I know that His Royal Highness is looking forward to speaking about her shortly — but I do not wish to take advantage of my position as Chairman in making a personal tribute. I have read — and seen on television — of Mother Teresa’s selfless and devoted work in Calcutta. I know that you, Mother Teresa, would be the last to seek recognition but you are the first to deserve it.
It has been a special privilege for me to take the Chair this evening when you are to be honoured and I would like, Mother, to add my sincere personal congratulations and gratitude for your life work and its so well deserved recognition.