Established in 1972 by financier and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Halík will receive the prize — which, at more than $1.8 million, is among the world's largest annual monetary awards — at a public ceremony in London in May.
Condemned in 1972 by Czechoslavakia's communist government as an "enemy of the regime," Halík, 65, spent nearly two decades organizing and building an extensive secret network of academics, theologians, philosophers, and students dedicated to cultivating the intellectual and spiritual underpinnings of the democratic state he and others envisioned. Over the years, he has examined a range of topics through his lectures and writings, including whether evil in the world proves there is no God and whether God is an answer or a question, while more recently he has advocated for religious tolerance and understanding. His approaches to interfaith dialogue include the proposition that the long intellectual tradition of Catholicism well positions it as a bridge between Western secularism, traditional religions, and Islamic culture.
"Whether risking prison to liberate the minds of his nation or daring to engage views that many keepers of the faith would shun as heretical, Tomáš Halík has continually opened vistas that advance humankind," said Templeton Foundation president and CEO John M. Templeton Jr. "Rising to these challenges, he inspires us all to break free of repression, whether it comes from a totalitarian government or our own blinkered world view."