LIFE HAS ROLLED A FULL CIRCLE
LISTENED TO BY WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH
Reflections of Fr. Prof. Waldemar Chrostowski on the occasion of receiving Ratzinger Prize
When I landed on the Roman airport Fiumicino and was going to the city centre, I recalled my first arrival in Rome – on 26 August 1978, on the election day of John Paul I. At that time I was a candidate for a student, and from October 1978 – a student of the Papal Biblical Institute. Whereas today I have arrived as a priest who is to receive Ratzinger Prize. When I come in new circumstances, I notice that life has rolled a full circle – what happened 36 years ago was important and what is happening in Vatican now is very important, as a kind of a crowning of my so-far work. I started my stay with my visit to the tomb of John Paul II and prayer here, because I was lucky to be here when he was elected and on the first days of his pontificate. I am also aware that living in the House of St. Martha, I am near the flat of the retired pope Benedict XVI whose name my prize has got.
In my so far work I would particularly mention the three sectors: academic work, didactic work and work on popularization of Bible and biblical knowledge. I think that in these three aspects the symmetry is seen. It means that there was much academic work whose results are publications, but for nearly 30 years I have been a lecturer of the Holy Scripture – first at the Academy of Catholic Theology, out of which the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was created – and I have been a professor for 10 years. For 9 years I was a lecturer at the University of Mikołaj Kopernik in Toruń, and also in Kiev and in Riga. I am glad that this work and its didactic fruits were noticed. Considering popularizing activity, I managed to elaborate and edit over 120 various book of Biblical Studies and biblical knowledge within the last 30 years. Apart from these three spheres, there is also one more dimension – a dialogue of the catholic Church with Jews and Judaism. This is a very important part of mission of the Church – necessary but also difficult. This activity had theoretical and practical character. Both in work on Bible and in a dialogue I have always tried to be faithful to the message which was expressed in words of Benedict XVI, said during the first meeting with priests in Rome on 13 May 2005. At that time Pope said that if we had found Christ who gives sense to life and is our joy, so why would we leave those who did not meet Jesus in their so-far situations? We will not do any harm to anybody when we give a testimony about Jesus. So the postulate of the inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism, the postulate of opening up to the world is connected with a duty of giving a testimony to Christ and the Gospel, that is, with a duty of evangelization. I was trying to do it for all these years, and I treat the Ratzinger Prize as a commitment to maintain on this road. I receive the Prize together with Mrs. Prof. Anne-Marie Pelletier from France. The Ratzinger Prize has been granted since 2011, that is, its tradition has just started – so, I am particularly happy that among the first rewarded people, there is also a Pole.