The Keynote speaker on Thursday 14 September, is Tomáš Halík is a Czech Catholic priest, philosopher, and theologian. He is a professor of sociology at the Charles University in Prague, in the Department of the Religious Studies. He is a pastor of the Academic Parish of Prague, and president of the Czech Christian Academy since 1990.
During the communist period, he was banned from university teaching and persecuted by the secret police as "an enemy of the regime." He worked as a psychotherapist with people struggling with drug addiction. Clandestinely ordained priest in Erfurt, Germany, in 1978, he worked in the Czech “underground Church” where he was one of Cardinal Tomášek's closest associates. He closely co-operated with the future president of the county, Václav Havel and became one of his advisors after the end of communism in 1989.
Since 1989, Halík has lectured at universities and international scientific conferences in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, Canada, and Southern Africa. He was also a visiting professor at Oxford University, Cambridge University and Harvard University. He is an author of several books on religion and spirituality and a recipient of numerous awards and prizes including the Templeton Prize, Romano Guardini Prize and an honorary degree from Oxford University. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI granted him the title of Monsignor Honorary Prelate of His Holiness.