(VIS) At 11:30 this morning in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the activities of the "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI", in particular, its symposium “The Gospels: History and Christology. The Research of Joseph Ratzinger”, which will be held at the Pontifical Lateran University from 24 to 26 October of this year. The names of the candidates selected by its academic committee for the Foundation's annual prize, which will be conferred on 26 October, were also announced.
Benedict XVI instituted the Foundation on 1 March, 2010, in response to the desire expressed by many scholars over the years. One of the areas of competency of the academic committee is precisely to establish the criteria of excellence for the creation and assignment of prizes to scholars who have distinguished themselves in the areas of publication and/or academic research. The Foundation's aim is to place the question of God at the heart of academic reflection. With the Ratzinger Prize, one of the Foundation's three main activities, it hopes to call attention to this subject. Its two principal activities are awarding scholarships to those pursuing doctorates in Theology and organizing conferences of high academic standard.
Speakers at the conference included: Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Foundation's academic committee; Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, O.P., president of the symposium's organizing committee; Msgr. Luis Romera, vice president of the symposium's organizing committee; and Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, the Foundation's president.
The recipients of this year's Ratzinger Prize are the English Biblical scholar Richard A. Burridge, dean of King's College London and minister in the Anglican Communion—the first non-Catholic to receive the award—and the German lay theologian Christian Schaller, professor of Dogmatic Theology and deputy director of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute of Regensburg, Germany, which is publishing the complete works of Joseph Ratzinger.
“Richard Burridge today,” said Cardinal Ruini, “is definitely an eminent figure in the field of Biblical studies and not only of the English language. In particular, he has made a great contribution in that decisive area of the historical and theological recognition of the Gospels' inseparable connection to Jesus of Nazareth.” Christian Schaller will also be awarded the Ratzinger Prize, “not only for his contribution to theological studies but also in recognition of the role he is carrying out in the publication of Joseph Ratzinger's complete works. This publication is of primary importance for the future of studies inspired by the thought of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, which is the main purpose of our Foundation.”
Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, the Foundation's president, outlined some details regarding the upcoming symposium to be held at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University. It will be the Foundation's third conference. The first—“Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace”—was held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2011. The second—“What Makes Man Man”—was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last year.
This year's symposium, “The Gospels: History and Christology”, starting from Joseph Ratzinger's research, will focus on the major themes of his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth and will last three days. The first day will address the issue of the Jesus of the Gospels, considering them as texts. After a summary of the historical research on the Jesus of the New Testament over the last centuries, the contribution of papyrology to the study of those texts will be analysed along with the definition of the literary genre of the Gospels in comparison to Greco-Roman biographies and their historical significance. Professors participating in the first day include: Dr. Bernardo Estrada (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome); Dr. Juan Chapa (University of Navarra, Spain); Dr. Richard Burridge (King's College, London); and Dr. Yves Simoens (Pontifical Biblical Institute and Gregorian University, Rome).
The second day will be dedicated to the figure of Jesus presented in the Gospels and the theology they contain, also in relation to other New Testament writings. First the reliability of the Gospel text will be analysed, with the purpose of discovering who Jesus really was. Then the historical figure that emerges from the Gospels and Pauline witness will be outlined. Finally, the impact of the Gospels in Early Christianity and the theology of the Fathers will be examined. Speakers on the second day will include: Dr. Klaus Berger (University of Heidelberg, Germany); Dr. John P. Meier (University of Notre Dame, USA); Dr. Antonio Pitta (Pontifical Lateran University, Rome); and Cardinal Prosper Grech (Pontifical Lateran University and Augustinianum, Rome).
Joseph Ratzinger's proposal of “Jesus of Nazareth” will be the key theme of the third day. Professor Thomas Soding (University of Bochum, Germany) and Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will discuss the importance of Ratzinger's research on exegesis, theology, and methodology. The symposium will also address two specific areas: the figure of Jesus in the Gospel passages relating his infancy and the Last Supper. Professors Dr. Armand Puig I Tarrech (dean of the Theological Faculty of Catalonia, Barcelona) and Dr. Ermenegildo Manicardi (Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome) will coordinate the presentations of the various experts in these areas.