Dr. Charles Taylor, 88, is an award-winning Canadian Catholic philosopher, who has taught at Oxford and at the University of Montreal and McGill University.
His focus has been in the areas of history of philosophy, most especially political philosophy and the philosophy of social science. One of Taylor’s many notable contributions was to the topics of religion, modernity, and secularization.
“During his years of active research and teaching, Professor Taylor has covered many fields, but he has particularly devoted his mind and heart to understanding the phenomenon of secularization in our time,” Francis noted.
“Secularization effectively poses a significant challenge for the Catholic Church, indeed for all Christians, and for all believers in God,” he said, adding that a priority of Benedict XVI’s pontificate was to “proclaim God anew” during a time “when that proclamation seems to be on the wane for a large part of humanity.”
The pope said, “few scholars in the present day have posed the problem of secularization with the breadth of vision as has Professor Taylor.”
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“We are indebted to him for the profound manner in which he has treated the problem, carefully analyzing the development of Western culture, the movements of the human mind and heart over time, identifying the characteristics of modernity in their complex relationships, in their shadows and lights.”
Taylor’s work invites Catholics to seek “new ways to live and express the transcendent dimensions of the human soul,” he continued, which allows them to engage with secularization in the West “in a way that is neither superficial nor given to fatalistic discouragement.”
“This is needed not only for a reflection on contemporary culture, but also for an in-depth dialogue and discernment in order to adopt the spiritual attitudes suitable for living, witnessing, expressing, and proclaiming the faith in our time,” he stated.
Despite coming from very different backgrounds and continents, the two honorees of the 2019 Ratzinger Prize have dedicated themselves to seeking “the way to God and the encounter with Christ,” Francis said.
“This,” he added, “is the mission of all who follow the teaching of Joseph Ratzinger as theologian and Pope, to be “‘co-workers of the truth.’”
The honorees of the Ratzinger Prize are chosen by Pope Francis, based upon the recommendations of a committee composed of Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg and Cardinals Angelo Amato, Kurt Koch, Gianfranco Ravasi, and Luis Ladaria, who are heads of offices in the Roman Curia.
Pope Francis said Nov. 9, that “we are all grateful” for the teaching of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “and for his exemplary service to the Church, demonstrated by his reflections, his thought and study, his listening, dialogue and prayer.”
“His aim was that we might consciously retain a lively faith despite the changing times and situations; and that believers could give an account of their faith in a language that can be understood by their contemporaries, entering into dialogue with them, together seeking pathways of authentic encounter with God in our time,” he said.
“This has always been a keen desire of Joseph Ratzinger the theologian and pastor, who never closed himself off in a disembodied culture of pure concepts, but gave us the example of seeking truth where reason and faith, intelligence and spirituality, are constantly integrated.”