London - Czech priest and professor Tomas Halik won the 2014 Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to affirming life´s spiritual dimension, in London today.
Halik, 65, is a Roman Catholic priest, a philosopher, sociologist, theologian and religionist whose books have been translated into several languages.
The Templeton Foundation pointed out that Halik has become an internationally respected personality promoting the dialogue among different faiths and non-believers and an advocate of religious tolerance and understanding.
During the Czech transition to democracy in the late 1980s and the 1990s, Halik was a consultant to then president Vaclav Havel and Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, the foundation writes on its website.
At the awarding ceremony today, Halik said he considers the prize also an appreciation of his teachers-priests who suffered under the Czechoslovak communist regime.
He said Havel and philosopher Jan Patocka specially contributed to the encouragement of spiritual freedom under communism in his country.
Halik said the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe and Czechs often feel indifference to religion.
He said he believes historical developments in the country were the main reason of this situation.
The first person to win the Templeton Prize was the missionary Mother Teresa in 1973, six years before she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2012 the prize went to the 14th Dalai Lama and last year to South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid fighter Desmond Tutu.
The prize is a monetary award equivalent to about 1.8 million U.S. dollars, or more than goes with a Nobel prize.
At present, Halik is philosophy and sociology professor at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague and priest of the Academic Parish in Prague.
Halik won the prize for Europe's best theological book in 2011 and the prestigious Romano Guardini Prize in 2010.