Halík converted to Roman Catholicism at 18 years old, due to the influence of writers like G. K. Chesterton and Graham Greene. He studied Sociology and Philosophy at Charles University, in Prague, then Czechoslovakia, where he was a student of Jan Patočka. He moved briefly abroad to study English at the University of Wales, in Bangor, where he was surprised by the Soviet-led invasion of his country, meant to crush the Prague Spring, in August 1968. He returned to Prague, where he graduated in 1972. He did a speech at his doctoral graduation ceremony that was deemed subversive by the Communist regimen, leading him to be banned from teaching or holding any academic position. He then worked as a psychotherapist, from 1972 to 1975. He held the chair of Psychology of Work for the Institute of the Ministry of Labour, from 1975 to 1984. Meanwhile, Halík studied clandestinely Theology in Prague, and on 21 August 1978, was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest in Erfurt, East Germany. He studied and received a post degree in Psychology from the Institute of Medicine in Prague in 1984. He worked as a psychotherapist for drug addicts and alcoholics at the clinic for cure of addictions of the Charles University, in Prague, from 1984 to 1990. In the 1980s he was active in the "underground church" and was a close associate of Cardinal František Tomášek, before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989.
After the "Velvet Revolution", which meant the triumph of democracy in his country, he was one of the external advisers of Czech president Václav Havel. Pope John Paul II appointed him as an adviser to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers in 1992. He licenciated in Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, in Rome, in 1992. The same year he took a higher doctorate in Sociology from Charles University and ThDr.hab. in Practical Theology at the Pontifical Theological University in Warsaw, Poland. Halík joined the Sociology Faculty at his alma-mater in 1993 and became a professor in 1997. He is also the head of the Religious Studies Department. As a visiting fellow, he held lectureships at both Oxford University and Cambridge University, in England. Hálik is the rector of the Church of the Holy Saviour, in Prague, since 1990, and co-founder and longtime President of the Czech Christian Academy. Pope Benedict XVI nominated him monsignor, as an honorary prelate of the pope, in 2008.
He often publicly discusses ethical issues, such as racism, political and religious intolerance, the process of secularisation, as well as the process of European expansion and integration.
Tomáš Halík is a member of several scientific societies, including the European Society for Catholic Theology, the International Society for the Psychology of Religion, and Washington-based Czechoslovak Society for Science and the Arts.
In 2010, his book Patience with God (Vzdáleným nablízku: vášeň a trpělivost v setkání víry s nevírou) was named book of the month by the U.S. Catholic Book Club and was awarded Europe's best theological book prize.
Honors, awards and prizes
Tomáš Halík has received many distinguished awards for his merits in inter-religious dialogue, his scholarly and pedagogical activity, his promotion of spiritual freedom and human rights, and for literature, including:
- 1997: The prize of the Masaryk Academy of Arts for creative activity (Prague)
- 2002: The Andrew Elias Human Tolerance Award for outstanding services in disseminating the values of tolerance and spiritual and intellectual freedom (USA)
- 2003: The Cardinal König Merit Award for defence of human rights and spiritual freedom, Austria (Laudator: Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic)
- 2006: The Literary Award of the Czech Literary Fund for the book Night of the Confessor
- 2007: The Fenix Prize of Polish Booksellers for the best book by a foreign author, for the Both Called and Not Called book (Poland)
- 2007: The Prize of the Czech Society for Science and Art for his literary, scholarly and pedagogical activity
- 2010: The Romano Guardini Prize for outstanding merits in interpreting contemporary society, Germany (Laudator: Karel Schwarzenberg, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic)
- 2010: The Golden St. Adalbert medal for extraordinarily efficient explanation of religion to fellow citizens, Prague (Laudator: Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague)
- 2010: Medal for outstanding services to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue (Islamic society Mosaika-Platform, Prague)
- 2011: Honorary title “Man of Reconciliation 2010” for outstanding services to dialogue between Christians and Jews (The Polish Council of Christians and Jews, Warsaw)
- 2012: The Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by decision of the Polish President
- 2014: Templeton Prize
Books in English
- Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing in Us. Doubleday, New York–London-Toronto-Sydney-Auckland, 2009.
- Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty. Doubleday/Image, New York–London-Toronto-Sydney-Auckland, 2012.
Books in Czech
- O přítomnou církev a společnost (For Present Church and Society). Prague: Křesťanská akademie, 1992. (Essays from 1989-91.)
- Sedm úvah o službě nemocným a trpícím (Seven Meditations about Serving the Diseased and Suffering). Brno: Cesta, 1993.
- Víra a kultura (Faith And Culture). Prague: Zvon, 1995.
- Ptal jsem se cest (I Asked The Roads). Prague: Portál, 1997. (Interviews with Jan Jandourek.)
- Co je bez chvění, není pevné (There is No Firmness Without Trembling). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2002.
- Oslovit Zachea (Addressing Zacheus). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2003.
- Vzýván i nevzýván (Both Called And Not Called). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2004.
- Noc zpovědníka (Night of the confessor: Paradoxes of little faith in a post-optimistic era). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2005. (Published in English under the title "Night of the Confessor")
- Prolínání světů (Overlaps of worlds). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2006.
- Vzdáleným nablízku. (To the distant ones nearby: Fervour and patience in the encounter of faith and non-belief) Prague: Lidové noviny, 2007. (Published in English under the title "Patience with God")
- Dotkni se ran (Touch the wounds: A spirituality of concern). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2008.
- Stromu zbývá naděje (Hope remains for the tree: The crisis as opportunity). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2009.
- Divadlo pro anděly (A theatre for angels: Life as a religious experiment). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2010.
- Smířená různost (Reconciled difference). Prague: Portál, 2011. (Interviews with Tomasz Dostatni)
- Úvahy na prahu tisíciletí - Ranní zamyšlení na vlnách BBC (Reflections on the eve of the millennium -Morning reflections broadcast by BBC Czech service). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2011.
- Chci, abys byl (I want you to be: Post-religion Christianity). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2012.
- Žít s tajemstvím (Living with mystery). Prague: Lidové noviny, 2013.
Books in French
- Patience avec Dieu: l'histoire de Zachée, continue à nous. CERF Paris 2014 (Patience with God)
Books in Italian
- Mistica, anima della filosofia? Fondazione nazionale „Vito Fazio-Allmayer“, Palermo 1999
- Vicino ai lontani: la pazienza della fede nel dialogo con l'ateismo. Libreria editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano 2012 (Patience with God)
- La notte del confessore. Milano, Figlie di San Paolo 2013 (Night of the confessor)
Books in German
- “Du wirst das Angesicht der erde erneuern”: Kirche und Gesellschaft an der Schwelle zur Freiheit. St.-Benno-Verl., Leipzig 1993 (You shall renew the face of the earth)
- Geduld mit Gott (Die Geschichte von Zachäeus heute). Freiburg: Herder, 2010 (Patience with God)
- Nachtgedanken eines Beichtvaters. Herder Verlag, Freiburg-Wien 2012 (Night of the confessor)
- Berühre die Wunden. Herder Verlag, Freiburg-Wien 2013 (Touch the wounds)
- All meine Wege sind DIR vertraut: Von der Untergrundkirche ins Labyrinth der Freiheit, Freiburg 2014
Books in Spanish
- Un proyecto de renovación espiritual. Narcea, Madrid 1996
- Paciencia con Dios. Herder, Barcelona 2014 (Patience with God)
Books in Portuguese
- Paciência com Deus, 2013 Paulinas Editora, 3.ª edição
- A Noite do Confessor, 2014 Paulinas Editora
- O meu Deus é um Deus ferido, 2015 Paulinas Editora
Books in Dutch
- Geduld met God: Twijfel als brug tussen geloven en niet-geloven. Uitgeverij Boekencentrum, Zoetermeer 2014
- Tomáš Halík at Templeton Prize Official Website
- Tomáš Halik at the Encyclopedia Britannica
- Bingham, John (13 March 2014). "Czech priest and former dissident Tomáš Halík wins £1.1m Templeton prize". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
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