Philosopher Jean-Luc Marion was named a recipient of this year’s Ratzinger Prize, often called the “Nobel Prize” for theology, by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation. Prof. Marion will be awarded the prize by Pope Francis in a ceremony in November 2021 (rescheduled due to the pandemic).
Known for his contributions to modern philosophy, phenomenology, the study of the Church Fathers, and Catholic theology, Marion has taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School since 1994, splitting time between Chicago and Paris, where he was professor at the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) and at the Institut Catholique. He has published numerous books in philosophy and theology, most notably “God Without Being,” “Givenness and Revelation” (The Gifford Lectures), and “In the Self ’s Place: The Approach of St. Augustine.”
In 2008, he was elected to one of the 40 seats in the prestigious Académie Française, which was founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635.
His receipt of the Ratzinger Prize gives to the Lumen Christi Institute an occasion to recognize his pivotal role in the life of the Institute. Marion participated in the initial theological discussion groups and the “Christian Wellsprings Lectures” that constituted the initial “Lumen Christi Project.” This was developed at the encouragement of Fr. Willard Jabusch, Catholic chaplain at the university. When Fr. Jabusch suggested the effort be incorporated as a Catholic lay institution recognized by, but independent of, the Archdiocese of Chicago, Marion was the first faculty member to review a draft of the prospectus for the new institute. A frequent contributor to the Institute’s lectures, master classes, symposia, and colloquia over the years, he has helped the Institute develop close ties with French scholars and institutions in the Archdiocese of Paris, including the Institut Catholique and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Indeed, the Lumen Christi Institute has close relations to several other winners of the Ratzinger Prize. Fr. Brian Daley, SJ, has been involved with the Lumen Christi Institute since its founding, has lectured and offered master classes for it, and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Rémi Brague, a close friend of Marion, has visited and lectured frequently for the Lumen Christi Institute; he has participated in its faculty colloquia in philosophy in Munich and Paris and has offered master classes for regional gatherings of doctoral students at the University of Chicago as well as at Harvard, Columbia, and Fordham. For the last several years the Lumen Christi Institute has scheduled Brague’s visits to the United States. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor participated in a memorable symposium on “What Philosophers Can Learn from the Tradition” with Marion and Alasdair MacIntyre in 2005; the Institute also organized a weeklong colloquium on his celebrated book, “A Secular Age,” in Paris in 2010.
Finally, also awarded the prize this year, Australian theologian Tracey Rowland first presented at the Lumen Christi Institute in a colloquium with Russell Hittinger on her book, “Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II,” in 2005. In the preface of her 2008 book, “Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI,” Rowland acknowledged how this work benefited from her participation in a colloquium on the thought of Joseph Ratzinger organized by the Institute at the Institut Catholique in June 2006.
You can watch many of the lectures Professor Marion has given for the Lumen Christi Institute HERE.