Celebrating 2014 Templeton Prize Laureate Tomáš Halík
By Samantha Cocove
In 1973, the first Templeton Prize was given to Mother Teresa. In 2023, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this award. Over the next 52 weeks, we will highlight each of our laureates and reflect on their impact on the world. From humanitarians and saints to philosophers, theoretical physicists, and one king, the Templeton Prize has honored extraordinary people. Together, they have pushed the boundaries of our understanding of the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it, making this (we humbly think) the world’s most interesting prize.
Born on June 1, 1948, in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Msgr. Prof. Tomáš Halík is a prominent philosopher, theologian, and Roman Catholic priest who risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country.
Halík’s early life was shaped by the turbulent political and religious landscape of his homeland during the Cold War era. Under the communist regime, religious activities were heavily restricted, yet Halík’s desire to pursue theology persisted. He secretly studied theology and was ordained as a priest in 1978, operating clandestinely to nurture the faith of those in need and to promote religious dialogue.
Halík spent almost 20 years building a hidden network of academics, theologians, philosophers, and students who were committed to developing the intellectual and spiritual foundations that helped Czechoslovakia transition to democracy after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Since then, he has promoted religious tolerance and understanding by sharing ideas and beliefs with people from a wide range of cultural and spiritual backgrounds, including non-believers. One of his approaches to interfaith dialogue is to argue that the long intellectual tradition of Catholicism makes it well-suited to serve as a bridge between diverse Western secularism, traditional religions, and Islamic culture.
Halík’s written works have been instrumental in addressing complex questions of faith and spirituality in the contemporary world. His books, including “Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing in Us” and “Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty,” have gained international recognition for their thoughtful exploration of faith in a secular society.
In 2014, Tomáš Halík was awarded the Templeton Prize in recognition of his outstanding contributions to theology and his relentless efforts to facilitate interfaith dialogue.
Halík was awarded the Templeton Prize by Lord Brian Griffiths, at a private ceremony at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in May 2014.
One cannot back away in the face of violence. It is necessary to protect and defend the innocent.Tomáš Halík
As one of the most notable and remarkable Prize winners, Professor Halík is the 44th Templeton Prize Laureate since my Father, Sir John Templeton, the late global investor and more so even than what people might call a philanthropist, somebody who wants to empower every one of you as we have heard the music and in every other way, to be a blessing to others.Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr.
Learn more about Tomáš Halík.