Tomáš Halík

Tomáš Halík

Tomáš Halík on an anti-nazi demostration in Prague's Old Town Square, 2007

Halík at an anti-Nazi demostration in Prague's Old Town Square, 2007
Born (1948-06-01) June 1, 1948
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Alma mater Charles University in Prague
Occupation Priest, theologian, philosopher, professor
Known for Ietsism
Notable work Patience With God
Night of the Confessor
Religion Roman Catholic
Awards Cardinal König Prize
Romano Guardini Prize
Templeton Prize
Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

Tomáš Halík (born June 1, 1948 in Prague) is a Czech Roman Catholic priest, philosopher, theologian and scholar. He is a professor of Sociology at Charles University in Prague, pastor of the Academic Parish by Saint Salvator's Church in Prague, and president of the Czech Christian Academy. Since 1989, he has lectured at a number of universities and international scientific conferences in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, Canada, and Southern Africa. He was also a visiting professor at Oxford University, Cambridge University and Harvard University.[1]

He is an author of numerous books on the matter of religion and spirituality and he's also a recipient of numerous awards and prizes including Templeton Prize[2] Romano Guardini Prize[3] and honorary degree from Oxford University.[4] In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI granted him the title of Monsignor Honorary Prelate of His Holiness.[1][5]

As an active member of religious and cultural dissent during Communist era, Halík was appointed by Pope John Paul II as an advisor to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers in 1992.[1] In the Saint Salvator Church in Prague, he often holds joint prayers and meditations with members of other religions such as Jews, buddhists[6] and even Muslims.[7] Due to his views on the other religions, his support for same-sex civil unions or immigration, he has received both praise and criticism.[8][9]


Communist era

Halík converted to Roman Catholicism at 18 years old, due to the influence of writers like G. K. Chesterton and Graham Greene. He studied Sociology and Philosophy at Charles University, in Prague, then Czechoslovakia, where he was a student of Jan Patočka. He moved briefly abroad to study English at the University of Wales, in Bangor, where he was surprised by the Soviet-led invasion of his country, meant to crush the Prague Spring, in August 1968. He returned to Prague, where he graduated in 1972. He did a speech at his doctoral graduation ceremony that was deemed subversive by the Communist regimen, leading him to be banned from teaching or holding any academic position. He then worked as a psychotherapist, from 1972 to 1975. He held the chair of Psychology of Work for the Institute of the Ministry of Labour, from 1975 to 1984. Meanwhile, Halík studied clandestinely Theology in Prague, and on 21 August 1978, was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest in Erfurt, East Germany. He studied and received a post degree in Psychology from the Institute of Medicine in Prague in 1984. He worked as a psychotherapist for drug addicts and alcoholics at the clinic for cure of addictions of the Charles University, in Prague, from 1984 to 1990. In the 1980s he was active in the "underground church" and was a close associate of Cardinal František Tomášek, before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989.

Democratic regimen

After the "Velvet Revolution", which meant the triumph of democracy in his country, he was one of the external advisers of Czech president Václav Havel. Pope John Paul II appointed him as an adviser to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers in 1992. He licenciated in Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, in Rome, in 1992. The same year he took a higher doctorate in Sociology from Charles University and ThDr.hab. in Practical Theology at the Pontifical Theological University in Warsaw, Poland. Halík joined the Sociology Faculty at his alma-mater in 1993 and became a professor in 1997. He is also the head of the Religious Studies Department. As a visiting fellow, he held lectureships at both Oxford University and Cambridge University, in England. Hálik is the rector of the Church of the Holy Saviour, in Prague, since 1990, and co-founder and longtime President of the Czech Christian Academy. Pope Benedict XVI nominated him monsignor, as an honorary prelate of the pope, in 2008.[10]

He often publicly discusses ethical issues, such as racism, political and religious intolerance, the process of secularisation, as well as the process of European expansion and integration.

Tomáš Halík is a member of several scientific societies, including the European Society for Catholic Theology, the International Society for the Psychology of Religion, and Washington-based Czechoslovak Society for Science and the Arts.

In 2010, his book Patience with God (Vzdáleným nablízku: vášeň a trpělivost v setkání víry s nevírou) was named book of the month by the U.S. Catholic Book Club[11] and was awarded Europe's best theological book prize.[12]

Honors, awards and prizes

Tomáš Halík has received many distinguished awards for his merits in inter-religious dialogue, his scholarly and pedagogical activity, his promotion of spiritual freedom and human rights, and for literature, including:


Books in English

Books in Czech

Books in French

Books in Italian

Books in German

Books in Spanish

Books in Portuguese

Books in Dutch


  1. 1 2 3 "Monsignor Tomáš Halík". Under Caesar's Sword, University of Notre Dame,. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  2. Tomáš Halík at Templeton Prize Official Website
  3. "ROMANO GUARDINI PRIZE: TO BE AWARDED TO CZECH PHILOSOPHER TOMAS HALIK ON 27 SEPTEMBER". Società per l’Informazione Religiosa. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Oxford announces honorary degrees for 2016". University of Oxford. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  5. "Tomáš Halík se stane monsignorem" (in Czech). 20 June 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  6. "Mezináboženský dialog na Foru 2000" (in Czech). Katolický týdeník. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  7. "INTERVIEW S TOMÁŠEM HALÍKEM" (in Czech). SHEKEL.CZ. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  8. "Válka mezi kardinálem Dukou a Halíkem kvůli pochodu homosexuálů? Nesmysl" (in Czech). 20 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  9. "Rozdělená nejen společnost ale i církev. Duka versus Halík, papež František?" (in Czech). 25 April 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  10. Tomáš Halik at the Encyclopedia Britannica
  13. Bingham, John (13 March 2014). "Czech priest and former dissident Tomáš Halík wins £1.1m Templeton prize". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
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