Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, a German-born philosophy professor, has been awarded the Matteo Ricci International Prize this year for his commitment in promoting interreligious dialogue in Indonesia. The Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
(Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) in Milan, Italy presented the award on Nov. 21. The university has presented the award since 1998 to people who have helped bridge cultural and intellectual divisions for the good of humanity. Father Magnis teaches philosophy at the Jesuit Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, where he was also rector from 1988 to 1998 and a former Director of Postgraduate Studies. Born in 1936, the priest arrived in Indonesia in 1961 and obtained citizenship in 1977. He has published 39 books and about 600 articles mainly on ethics, philosophy and Indonesian culture. He is also actively engaged in interreligious dialogue. "The award motivates me to continue my commitment to bear witness to Christ's liberating and healing message to the marginalized," Father Magnis told ucanews.com on Nov. 25. More needs to be done to ensure peace in Indonesia, especially at a time when religious extremism poses a serious threat to society, he said. He was referring to a Nov. 13 petrol bomb attack at a Protestant church in East Kalimantan that killed an infant and injured three others. Achmad Nurcholish, a prominent Muslim intellectual, said Father Magnis has contributed much to the progress of humanity in Indonesia, especially through his writings that enrich perspectives. "On contemporary social issues, he has much to say, especially on religious radicalization and intolerance," he said. According to Nurcholish, Father Magnis wants to restore religion as a source of virtue that makes its adherents love others, regardless of ethnic or religious background. "His life is also very simple, humble and he is always open to anyone," he said. Reverend Palti Panjaitan, chairman of rights group Solidarity of Victims of Violations of Freedom of Religion and Beliefs called Father Magnis someone who transcends the barriers of identity. "He is a figure accepted by everyone because he fights for the benefit of all," he said.