Ratzinger Foundation unveils new prize, announces American winners

Pope Benedict XVI on Aug 28 2010 Credit LOsservatore Romano CNA 2 Pope Benedict XVI on Aug. 28, 2010.

The Vatican's Joseph Ratzinger Foundation unveiled a new prize called "Expanding Reason," aimed at promoting dialogue between the sciences and philosophy and theology in scholarly work.

Four Americans – Darcia Narvaez from the University of Notre Dame and Michael Schuck, Nancy C. Tuchman, and Jesuit Fr. Michael J. Garanzini from Loyola University – are among this year's winners.

"Expanding Reason," the name of the prize, "is a central idea in the teaching and in the work of Joseph Ratzinger (who would become Pope Benedict XVI) because he's a man of intelligence, he's a man of reason, of the search for truth," Fr. Federico Lombardi, former director of the Holy See Press Office, told EWTN Sept. 26.

President of the Ratzinger Foundation, Fr. Lombardi said the idea for the prize came about as a way to encourage work in the direction of dialogue between science and philosophy, and science and theology – "in research and also in the organization of courses in the university."

"Confidence in human reason is the basis for a dialogue between the different fields of human knowledge. And this is necessary to find also the direction, the answer, to big questions of life, of death, of people and of the history of mankind," he continued.

The prize has two categories: one for research-based books or works and another for professors working directly with students. The awards will be handed out at a ceremony at the Vatican Sept. 27.

Organized in collaboration with the University of Francisco de Vitoria of Madrid, the prize had more than 300 applicants, which Fr. Lombardi said is "much more than we expected," but shows that there is space and a desire for this discussion.

Of these 300 applicants, four winners were chosen, two under each category. Two applicants were also given honorable mention.

Of the four winners, one was Darcia Narvaez, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame since 2000. Her work, "Neurobiology and the development of human morality: evolution, culture and wisdom," investigates the foundation and origins of human morality in child development.

The other American prize recipients are Michael Schuck, Nancy C. Tuchman and Jesuit Fr. Michael J. Garanzini from Loyola University. They won as a group under the teaching category for their work "Healing Earth," an online manual of environmental science, ethics, spirituality and action promoting awareness of environmental problems.

The other winners were Claudia Vanney and Juan F. Franck of Buenos Aires, Argentina for their scholarly work: "Determinism or indeterminism? Big questions from the sciences to philosophy" and Dominican Sr. Laura Baritz of Hungary for "the keteg Teaching Program and mission."

Benedict XVI insists "on the need to have a broad and open view of reason and its exercise in seeking the truth and the answer to fundamental questions about humanity and its destiny," Fr. Lombardi said in a press conference Sept. 26.

"This idea is fundamental to the dialogue between the Church and modern culture, between sciences and philosophy and theology, and hence also a fundamental idea for the way of thinking of the university and its function."

The Ratzinger Foundation also announced that the seventh annual Ratzinger Prize will be awarded on Nov. 18 this year.

Also an award of the Ratzinger Foundation, 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 foundation's international conference, also in its seventh year, will take place in Costa Rica from Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2017. Organized in collaboration with the Catholic University of Costa Rica, this year's theme is "Laudato si: For the 'care of the common home' a necessary conversion to Human Ecology."

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