By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has expressed appreciation for the work of the 2018 Ratzinger Prize winners, a theologian and an architect, whose noble work, he said, helps us to lift our heads and turn our thoughts to God.
The Ratzinger Prize honours outstanding individuals for their research in theology and adjacent sciences, or for their religious artwork. The Prize is awarded by the Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation that was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
In a speech of greeting to this year’s prize-winners, Professor Marianne Schlosser and Architect Mario Botta, the Pope said that “against the backdrop and in the context of the great problems of our time, theology and art must (…) continue to be animated and elevated by the power of the Spirit, which is the source of strength, joy and hope”.
An occasion to express gratitude to the Pope Emeritus
And after having remarked on how the event provides “a lovely occasion on which to offer our affectionate and grateful thought to the Pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI”, the Pope said that “as admirers of his cultural and spiritual legacy,” members of the Foundation and the prize-winners have received the mission to “cultivate it and continue to make it bear fruit, with that strongly ecclesial spirit that has distinguished Joseph Ratzinger”.
Special appreciation for choosing a woman theologian
Turning directly to the theologian, Prof. Schlosser, Pope Francis expressed satisfaction that the award for research and teaching in theology this year has been attributed to a woman.
“It is very important that the contribution of women to the scientific field of theological research and that of the teaching of theology — for so long considered almost exclusive territories of the clergy — be recognized more and more. It is necessary that this contribution be encouraged, and that it find a wider space, in keeping with with the growing presence of women in the various fields of responsibility for the life of the Church, in particular, though not only, in the cultural field” he said.
Architects: creators of sacred space
Pope Francis then congratulated the architect, Mario Botta, remarking on how in addition to theology, the Ratzinger Prizes are also appropriately conferred in the field of Christian-inspired arts.
“Throughout the history of the Church, he said, sacred buildings have been a concrete call to God and to the dimensions of the spirit wherever the Christian proclamation has spread throughout the world. They expressed the faith of the believing community, they welcomed that community, helping to give form and inspiration to the prayer of that community. The commitment of the architect, creator of sacred space in the city of men, is therefore of highest value, and must be recognized and encouraged by the Church, especially when we risk the oblivion of the spiritual dimension and the dehumanization of urban spaces”.