A Brazilian priest and a Lebanese scholar were awarded on Monday the 2015 Ratzinger Prizes, in recognition of their work in theology.

"With these two figures, the list of theologians who have deservedly received the Ratzinger Prizes is further enriched not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively," Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said Nov. 16.

The two honorees were announced during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office.

Professor Nabil el-Khoury, 74, is a professor of philosophy and literature at the Lebanese University of Beirut and the University of Tubingen in Germany. He has translated the entire works of Joseph Ratzinger into Arabic, and has been involved in many theological projects and has authored numerous academic articles.

Father Mario de França Miranda, S.J., 79, is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1955, and is a past member of the International Theological Commission. He has written many articles and 14 books, and has contributed to 31 other books. He has also served on the editorial boards of several magazines.

He has taught at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Society of Jesus' Faculty of Theology in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has collaborated with both Brazil's bishops' conference and the Latin American Episcopal Conference.

The Ratzinger Prize was begun in 2011 to recognize scholars whose work demonstrates a meaningful contribution to theology in the spirit of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Bavarian theologian who became Benedict XVI. The prize is awarded by the Ratzinger Foundation, which was founded in 2010 with Benedict XVI's approval to study and promote his writings as a theologian, as a cardinal in charge of the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and as Pope.

Archbishop Ladaria noted that this year's honorees represent Latin American and Eastern Catholicism.

He said Latin America has given the Church its first non-European Pope in modern times, through whom the Church "has offered a new and very eloquent proof of its catholicity." He also cited St. John Paul II's emphasis on the importance of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the need for the Church to "breathe with both lungs," east and west, with "greater mutual knowledge of these two great traditions."

The archbishop is a member of the Ratzinger Foundation's scientific committee.

Mgr. Giuseppe A. Scotti, the Ratzinger Foundation president, said the foundation works to create "a future where man and God are capable of a full and constructive dialogue, capable of giving life to man and the world."

Past Ratzinger Prize honorees include University of Notre Dame theology professor Father Brian Edward Daley, S.J., French lay philosopher Remi Brague, Italian patristics scholar Manlio Simonetti, Anglican professor Richard Burridge of King's College London, German theology professor Christian Schaller, French scripture professor Anne-Marie Pelletier, and Polish biblical scholar Monsignor Waldemar Chrostowski.