12/01/2022, 21.50
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A Jewish scholar receives the Ratzinger Prize

One of the two recipients of the 2022 Ratzinger Prize is a Jewish scholar, Prof Joseph Weiler, an expert on the relationship between faith and the law. Pope Francis, who personally awarded the prizes, noted that Benedict XVI’s theology “is not oriented towards the past, but [is] fruitful for the future”. Between 31 January and 5 February 2023, the pontiff will be on an apostolic visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Established in 2011, this year’s Ratzinger Prize went for the first time to a Jewish scholar, along with a French Jesuit priest. The prize was created by the Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

In a ceremony held today in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican, Pope Francis personally awarded the prestigious prize to Professor Joseph Halevi Horowitz Weiler, a leading scholar on the relationship between faith and the law in the contemporary world, and Fr Michel Fédou, professor of dogmatic theology and patristics at the Centre Sèvres in Paris.

A lecturer at numerous universities and law schools in the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere, Weiler, 71, is also known for his pro bono intervention on behalf of the Italian government in a case that reached the European Court of Human Rights over the presence of a crucifix in classrooms.

In presenting the prize, Pope Francis noted how conflicts generated by an unlimited extension of subjective rights and the risks involved in relegating religion to the private sphere have always been issues that Benedict XVI followed closely.

“Professor Weiler took courageous positions in the search for consensus on fundamental values and overcoming conflicts for the common good,” Francis said. “That Jews and Christians may be united in this is a sign of great hope.”

The award is also a sign of how dialogue and friendship with the Jewish world is central to the life of the Church values.

The ceremony gave Pope Francis a chance to reiterate the value and timeliness of Pope Benedict XVI’S thought and magisterium.  

“The Pope Emeritus and I have had personal, fraternal and affectionate moments together,” Francis said on a more personal note. But Benedict XVI’s contributions to theology remain a point of reference today, "not oriented towards the past, but fruitful for the future, for the implementation of the Council and for dialogue between the Church and the world today."

“These contributions offer us a solid theological basis for the Church's journey: a 'living' Church, which he taught us to see and live as communion, and which is on a journey - in 'synod' - guided by the Spirit of the Lord, always open to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and serving the world in which she lives".

Today the Holy See Press Office also confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Africa in early 2023; the pontiff had to postpone it because if his knee problems.

The pontiff will leave Rome on 31 January for in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he will stay for three days. He will not travel to the troubled Kivu region in the east of the country, which was originally included in the schedule.

From 3 to 5 February, he will be in Juba, South Sudan, for an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace, together with the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Right Revd Iain MacLeod Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

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