Born in Prague 1st June 1948, son of the literary historian Dr. Miroslav Halík.
He studied sociology and philosophy (1966-71) at the Arts and Philosophy Faculty of Charles University (in the class of Prof. Patočka). Awarded PhD in 1972. In the autumn of 1968 he attended a course in the sociology and philosophy of religion at the University of Wales (Bangor, UK). In 1984 he completed a post-graduate course in clinical psychology and became a licensed psychotherapeutical practitioner. He studied theology clandestinely in Prague with Josef Zvěřina and after 1989 undertook a course of post-graduate study (majoring in religion studies) at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, obtaining a licenciate in theology (Th.Lic.). In autumn 1992 he took higher doctorates at Charles University in Prague (sociology) and at the Pontifical Theological Faculty in Wroclaw (theology). In 1997, he was appointed Professor of Sociology at Charles University.
During the Communist period, he was banned from university teaching and was registered and investigated by the secret police as "an enemy of the regime". He worked in various occupations, firstly as a psychologist and sociologist in industry then (1984-89) as a psychotherapist for alcoholics and drug addicts. His work focused on sensitivity and social communication training in management and leadership; he lectured externally to doctors and medical students on doctor-patient communication, as well as on the philosophical, ethical and psychological aspects of medicine and psychotherapy.
On 21st October 1978, he was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest at Erfurt in the GDR by Bishop Aufderbeck. Before 1989 he was active in the so-called "underground church" and in the 1980s was one of Cardinal Tomášek's closest associates. He was initiator of the ecumenical pastoral project "Decade of National Spiritual Renewal". He was actively involved in clandestine seminars in private homes, published in samizdat and helped publish illegal philosophical and theological books and journals. He also co-operated with the future President, Václav Havel, and other dissidents.
After the fall of Communism, he served as General Secretary to the Czech Conference of Bishops (1990-93) and lectured in pastoral psychology and sociology at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University. Since 1990, he has been rector of the University Church of St Saviour in Prague and President of the Czech Christian Academy.
Since 1993 he has lectured at the Institute for Philosophy and Religious Studies of the Arts and Philosophy Faculty of Charles University. His teaching focuses on the philosophy, psychology and sociology of religion, the relationship of religion and culture, and on the role of religion in modern society. He was initiator of the international research project Aufbruch concerned with religiosity and the role of the church in post-Communist societies. He has also worked on several other Czech and international scientific and research projects. In the period 1991-93, he undertook practical training courses in Austria, Germany and Israel related to management and communication with the media. In January 2002, he took part in an Antarctic expedition to research survival in conditions of extreme mental and physical stress.
He has over 200 publications to his credit, including full-length books, teaching texts, and articles both specialised and for the general reader, published at home and abroad. His books have also been published in German, Polish, Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian and Slovenia. His book Patience with God has been published in English by Doubleday, New York; a further book, Confessor’s Night is in course of publication by the same publisher (October 2010)
He is a member of the editorial boards of several Czech and foreign specialist journals, and he serves on a number of expert bodies and scientific societies at home and abroad, such as the Swiss Psychotherapeutic Society, the European Society for Catholic Theology, the Washington-based Czechoslovak Society for Science and the Arts and the International Society for the Psychology of Religion. He is a life member of the Görres Gesellschaft in Germany, and an honorary member of the Church Law Society, etc. Since 1994, he has been a member of the Academic Board of the Palacký University in Olomouc and since 1992 a member of the Scientific Board of the Centre for Theoretical Study of Charles University. In 1998, he was appointed a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Since 1989, he has lectured at a number of universities and international scientific conferences in Europe (Rome, London, Cambridge, Vienna, Munich, Salzburg, Graz, San Sebastian, Palermo, Lublin, Paris, etc.), at eight universities in the USA, in India (Madras and Mumbai), Taiwan and Latin America (Chile and Argentina). In the summer term of 1991 he was visiting lecturer at Salzburg University, in the summer term of 1999 he was visiting professor at the chair of International Political Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and in the spring term of 2000 at New York University in Prague. In the autumn term of 2001 he was visiting senior fellow at Oxford University and in autumn term of 2003 at Cambridge University. In 2001 he delivered the annual January lecture at Calvin College in Michigan, in 2005 the annual Von Huegel-Lecture at the University of Cambridge, and in 2009 the annual lecture at Harvard University.
Since the mid-nineties, he has been involved in international efforts to promote dialogue and understanding between religions and cultures, taking part in talks with Jewish thinkers in Israel and the USA, with Hindus in India and Great Britain, with Buddhists in Nepal, Japan and Thailand, with Muslims in Egypt (at Al Ajar university in Cairo), Jordan and Great Britain, etc. He is a member of the organising committee of the Forum 2000 conference with particular responsibility for inter-religious relations and member of the board of honour of the Society of Christians and Jews. In 2003 he was Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (CJCR) in Cambridge.
In June 2002 he received the Andrew Elias Human Tolerance Award "for outstanding services towards propagating the values of tolerance and freedom of spirit and thought". He was awarded the Prize of the Masaryk Academy of Art for his creative activity. In 2003, the Austrian foundation "Communio et Progressio" awarded him the Cardinal König Prize for his defence of human rights and spiritual freedom. In 2006 he was awarded the prize of the Czech Literary Fund for the best literary work of the year and in 2007 the prize of the Czech Society for Science and Art for his literary, scholarly and pedagogical activity, and the Polish Fenix Prize for the best work by a foreign author. In 2009 he received the “Truth and Justice” prize for his defence of human rights and justice.
Since 1989 he has participated actively in public life, maintaining a high media profile and being involved in civic initiatives. He has taken public stands against racial, national, religious and political intolerance and violence. He has actively promoted Czech-German reconciliation and the ecumenical reconciliation of the different churches, and has spoken out on issues of political and economic ethics. He frequently gives talks and lectures in Czech and Moravian country areas on a wide range of topics, particularly to do with ethics. He was a member of the governmental board for foundations and non-profit organisations and of the Honorary National Committee for the Year of the Family and member of the team of experts attached to the Office of the Czech Government for planning a long-term development concept for the Czech Republic.
In the 1990s he served as one of President Václav Havel’s external advisers. In 1998 Václav Havel indicated in the Czech media that Tomas Halík is an eligible candidate for Havel's successor in the office of Czech President. However, Halík refused any active involvement in the politics and decided on continuing with his work as an academician, priest and writer.
Since 1999, he has been a frequent participant in international debates and panel discussions with European politicians regarding the widening of the European Union and on the cultural and spiritual aspects of the process of European integration (Berlin, Hanover, Passau, Lausanne, Paris, etc.) He has acted on several occasions as an expert at the European Parliament in Brussels and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. In 2006 he was appointed a member of the European board of experts (Comité des sages) of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) in Brussels. He has been a member of the OSCE International Advisory Panel since 2002.
In 1992, Pope John Paul II appointed him advisor to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers and in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI granted him the title of Monsignor - Honorary Prelate of His Holiness.
Deutsch Tomáš HALÍK, Deutsch.doc