Strasbourg Institute director Dieter to receive 2017 Ratzinger Prize

Prof. Theodor Dieter, director, LWF Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France. Photo: Biersack

Recognition for contribution to Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification 

(LWI) - Lutheran ecumenist Prof. Theodor Dieter will receive the 2017 Ratzinger Prize on 18 November. The director of the LWF Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, becomes the first Protestant to be recognized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation for his outstanding theological study and contribution to ecumenical dialogue and the religious sphere.

The foundation will award the German theologian for his particular engagement in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), signed by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999. 

The declaration affirmed that justification is based on grace and faith alone. It declared that the mutual condemnations by Roman Catholics and Protestants dating from the 16th century do not apply to the Lutheran and Roman Catholic teaching as explained in the declaration. The JDDJ has since been affirmed by the World Methodist Council and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

I am full of joy and very grateful for receiving this prestigious prize, which also honors the work of the LWF Institute in Strasbourg.
Prof. Theodor Dieter, director, LWF Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France

"I am full of joy and very grateful for receiving this prestigious prize, which also honors the work of the LWF Institute in Strasbourg. I am especially delighted that the prize is related to my engagement for the JDDJ,” Dieter said.

“That the name of Joseph Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI] who contributed much to the completion of the JDDJ, is again connected with this document 18 years after it was signed, is indeed a welcome appreciation of this document in the 2017 Reformation year,” he added.

An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg, Germany, Dieter has been a research professor at the LWF institute since 1994 and its director since 1997. He studied Protestant theology and philosophy, completing his philosophical studies in 1978.

His doctoral work in Protestant theology was completed in 1991 with his dissertation on “The Philosophical Theses of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and Their Proofs: A Critical Commentary”. 

Dieter has served as a consultant for the international Lutheran - Roman Catholic dialogue and was one of the main drafters of the From Conflict to Communion  publication in 2013. He also supports the trilateral dialogue between Lutherans, Mennonites and Catholics. 

The prize is also being awarded to Roman Catholic theologian Prof. Karl-Heinz Menke of Germany and Orthodox Estonian composer Maestro Arvo Pärt. The Joseph Ratzinger foundation was set up in 2007 to promote studies and publications on the works and thoughts of the now retired pope, and more generally, to enhance studies in theology and connected disciplines. 

LWF Institute for Ecumenical Research

Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation

Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification