WOW! Imagine giving a prize in your own name! Well, if you are the Pope and an eminent theologian, you can (and will). This is cool, as “they” say. Vatican Radio announced today that the Pope has given the prize in theological studies in this thought. While 2 of the 3 are senior in age and wisdom, but don’t be fooled: all of them are top scholars and widely known; the youngest recipient has a lot more juice in him. Abbot Maximillian is the author of a brilliant book on Ratzinger’s theology, Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology (Ignatius Press 2007). 

The Rome Reports story is here. The Holy See’s story follows:

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The first three winners of the Ratzinger Prize were
announced on Tuesday in the Vatican Press Office. The prize was established
last year to promote theological studies on the writings of the Pope, and to
reward promising scholars. The prizes will be given out by Pope Benedict on
June 30th.

The Ratzinger Prize is a project of the Joseph
Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, which was funded by Pope Benedict
with the royalties he has received from his books.

The prizes and the
conferences the foundation sponsors focus on helping the truth, meaning and
beauty of Christianity in relation to today’s culture and society emerge.

Tuesday, the first three winners of the Ratzinger Prize were announced.

Manlio Simonetti, the 85 year old expert on the Church Fathers, who is a retired professor from Rome’s “La Sapienza” University, as well as a noted lecturer at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum.

Olegario González de Cardedal, the 77 year old Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

Maximilian Heim, O.Cist., the 50 year old professor of of dogmatic and fundamental theology (ecclesiology) at the University of Heiligenkreuz, whose focus has been on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger. [Heim was just elected by his Cistercian community as abbot of Heiligenkreuz Abbey.]

During the presentation, the President of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, said the committee decided to award the prizes to two well-established scholars, as well as one whom he called “relatively young, but very promising.”

He said this year’s awards covered the areas of patristics, and dogmatic and fundamental theology, but added he hoped future awards would be given in the area of Sacred Scripture. Last year, when the awards were being announced, Cardinal Ruini said he hoped they would someday be viewed as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Theology.