Czech priest Tomáš Halík announced as LWF Assembly keynote speaker

13 Apr 2023

Ordained in secret during the communist era, Halík is a renowned professor, writer and public speaker calling for dialogue and closer cooperation between people of all faiths and none.

Professor Tomáš Halík will be the keynote speak at LWF’s Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow. Photo: LWF

Professor Tomáš Halík will be the keynote speak at LWF’s Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow. Photo: LWF

Leading Catholic intellectual and author is renowned for his work on religious freedom and interfaith relations

(LWI) - Leading Czech professor, sociologist and author, Monsignor Tomáš Halík will be the keynote speaker at the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow, Poland in September. Ordained clandestinely as a Roman Catholic priest in Erfurt, East Germany, during the communist era, he became one of the organizers of an underground network dedicated to religious freedom and has remained a key figure in the intellectual life of his country.

“We are delighted that Professor Dr Halík has agreed to offer a keynote message to the LWF Assembly. Coming from one of the most secularized countries in Europe, Prof. Halik is a strong voice of hope for the future of Christianity," said LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt. “In his writings, he has emphasized that the history of religion and the history of Christianity consist of periods of crisis and periods of renewal; the only religion that is truly dead is one that does not undergo change, the one that has dropped out of that rhythm of life.”

Halík, who converted to Catholicism at 18 years of age, is well known for his efforts to promote religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. After studying sociology, philosophy and psychotherapy at Prague’s Charles University, he was ordained in 1978 and spent nearly two decades building a network of academics, theologians, philosophers and students preparing for a return to democracy in Czechoslovakia.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Halík became an advisor to Czech President Václav Havel, as well as an advisor to the Vatican’s Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers in 1992. He became a professor and head of the Religious Studies Department at Charles University and has held visiting fellowships at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard universities.

Halík is the recipient of numerous awards for his work to promote human rights, religious freedom and interfaith dialogue. He is also the author of many volumes on religion, spirituality and secularism. In his 2012 book ‘Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty’ he wrote: “The very survival of Western society depends on the possibility of coexistence and mutual compatibility between Christianity and secularism.”

The Thirteenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation takes place 13-19 September 2023 in Krakow, Poland. The theme of the Assembly will be "One Body, One Spirit, One Hope." It will be hosted by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.

LWF/P. Hitchen