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International centre for religious studies opens in Prague

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Prague, June 16 (CTK) – An international centre for the study of political philosophy, ethic and religion opened in Prague on Wednesday, initiated by Catholic theologian and priest Tomas Halik and operating within the Charles University’s Faculty of Arts.

Apart from Halik, the opening was attended by representatives of the institutions involved and Central European universities, and also Grzegorz Ekiert, director of the Central European studies at Harvard University and Shalini Randeir, director of the Vienna humanities institute.

The new centre will be interconnected with universities such as Oxford and the University of Notre Dame (USA) and it will focus on the research of aspects of public life and issues related to the role of religion in present society.

“The centre will co-organise the global conference on the role of religion in public life to be hosted by the University of Oxford next year,” Halik said.

When announcing the plan to establish the centre some time ago, Halik said he understands the project as a consequence of three significant awards bestowed on him in the past years, mainly the Templeton Prize for his contribution to spiritual dimension of life.

“I mainly focus on the question of how to turn the process of globalisation into a process of cultural communication,” he said.

The new centre’s advisory team includes philosophers Charles Taylor and Jeff McMahan, Oxford University professor, journalist and historian Timothy Garton Ash and Christian theologian Alister McGrath.

Halik used to teach at the University of Oxford as a guest professor. On June 22, he will be presented with the university’s honorary doctorate, as the fourth Czech to receive the prestigious title, after former presidents Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Benes and Vaclav Havel.

Some in the Czech Republic speculate that Halik might run for Czech president in 2018. Halik has never refuted the speculations, but he speaks about “tasks awaiting him on the international intellectual scene.”

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