Ducci Foundation 2013 Peace Awards laud dialogue
Hails pope for interfaith dialogue22 March, 16:29
The prizes were awarded in an elaborate ceremony held at the headquarters of the Rome local government. The event was attended by intellectuals, diplomats and politicians, including former Italian Foreign Minister Gianni de Michelis and Professor Lucio Caracciolo.
The Ducci Foundation was founded by current president Paolo Ducci to commemorate the cultural and social works of his parents Francesco Paolo and Anna Maria Ferraro di Castiglione. The body promotes inter-religious dialogue, as well as socio-economic, scientific, cultural and artistic initiatives. It also supports historical and political research.
"The Ducci foundation peace prize highlights the need for peace dialogue to originate from the three monotheistic religions," foundation President Paolo Ducci told ANSA. "This dialogue is the only way to ensure that knowledge prevails and that prejudices are expelled".
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was awarded a posthumous prize after passing away last year. Martini, an Italian Jesuit priest like the recently elected Pope Francis, was hailed as a progressive-minded liberal within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. His being appointed archbishop of Milan in 1980 was an anomaly in Church history, given the rarity of a Jesuit being named bishop.
He developed Parkinson's disease and retired as archbishop in 2002 and died 10 years later at the Jesuit Aloisianum College in Milan. After his death, Italy's main newspaper Corriere della Sera published his final interview, in which he called the Catholic Church "200 years out of date", and urged the religion to renew its culture, fill up its empty pews, admit its mistakes and slash its bureaucracy.
The foundation also prized Cardinal Paul Joseph Jean Poupard for contributions to peace.
Poupard was born in 1930 in France and has held important posts within the Roman Catholic Church, including that of the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Culture and also that of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He was appointed Cardinal in 1985.
The Ducci Foundation's awards ceremony, which sees important figures of the Catholic Church as well as others recognized for their contribution to peace, comes close on the heels of the election of Pope Francis.
On Wednesday - the same day the Ducci Foundation gave out its awards - Pope Francis called for all religions and groups of non-believers to unite and take action to promote peace, justice and the environment, and combat the consumerist and material way of life that currently prevails. The Pontiff also held a meeting with non-Catholic religious leaders on the same day, including Jews, Muslims, Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists, Buddhists and Hindus.
"This is perfectly in line with the Ducci foundation's aims, and we are extremely pleased the pontiff has indicated this as the direction to take", Ducci said. "He will go very far: there is already talk of closer relations with the Orthodox Church and the Islamic world has also reacted very favourably".
Algerian academic and intellectual Mustafa Cherif, who earlier this month was awarded the 2013 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture, was also awarded the peace prize in recognition of his long-standing contribution to the promotion of Arab Muslim culture and inter-cultural dialogue.
Cherif, a former diplomat and politician, co-founded the World Islamic-Catholic Forum. He dedicated part of his career to teaching and research and has also masterminded a series of courses about Arab Muslim civilization and culture at the University of Algiers, at the Ecole Superieure de Sciences Politiques et Relations internationals in Algiers, and at the Open University of Catalonia.
Also prized was Noa, Israel's leading international concert and recording artist, known in Israel by her given name Achinoam Nini, for her strong commitment to global peace.