VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University will present its seventh annual Civitas Dei Medal to Cardinal Walter Kasper, the internationally respected German theologian and president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome.
Cardinal Kasper has dedicated more than 60 years of ordained ministry to relating the Gospel message to the joys and sufferings of contemporary society. He is especially known for advancing the Catholic Church’s ecumenical engagement and fostering dialogue with other world religions.
The Civitas Dei Medal is awarded to Catholics who, through their work, have made exemplary contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition and especially to the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness. It takes its name from the seminal work City of God (De Civitate Dei), in which St. Augustine expresses a distinctive commitment to intellectual engagement between the Church and the world.
“The Catholic intellectual tradition emphasizes the integrity of all paths of knowledge in an authentic search for truth,” says the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, University president. “As a Catholic, Augustinian institution, Villanova is rooted in this tradition and honors scholars worldwide whose distinguished work has strengthened it.”
“In addition to recognizing those who have significantly enriched this 2,000-year-old tradition, Villanova also hopes to inspire other scholars to do the same,” notes Barbara Wall, PhD, vice president for Mission and Ministry, who will present the medal to Cardinal Kasper at a special ceremony.
After serving as a professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Münster and then, beginning in 1970, at the University of Tübingen, Kasper was ordained a bishop in 1989. For the next decade, he worked in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart to heed Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization.
Respecting religious pluralism without compromising Catholic doctrine, Kasper strengthened relationships and increased dialogue with Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish leaders, especially during his Vatican years, 1999–2010. As co-chair of the International Commission for Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, for example, Kasper signed the landmark “Joint Agreement on the Doctrine of Justification” in Augsburg.
Kasper’s more than 950 publications explore topics such as the Triune God, human freedom, ecumenism and the Eucharist, and reveal his theological clarity and commitment to the Church’s flourishing. His many translated books, including Jesus the Christ (1974) and Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (2014), have inspired and challenged scholars and other serious readers.
Kasper, who was elevated to cardinal in 2001, has emphasized the Church’s living teaching, whose wellspring is the Gospel. Speaking to the College of Cardinals before the 2014–15 Synod of Bishops on the Family, Kasper drew upon this tradition to suggest how the Church might pastorally approach challenges faced by divorced, civilly remarried persons.
See the previous list of Civitas Dei Medal recipients here.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.