NEW YORK (CWN) - The $1.2 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion was awarded on Wednesday to the British man who helped negotiate and end to the controversy over a Carmelite convent near the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

      Sir Sigmund Sternberg, 76, executive committee chairman of the International Council of Christians and Jews, was honored for his work in Jewish-Christian dialogue and working to include Muslims in the past year. "I am really a simple soul, a businessman, who, in a modest way, has been smiled on by fortune ... and who has tried to repay the blessings which have been bestowed on me by opening to others a sense of the goodness which lies in us all, regardless of our faith," Sternberg said today.

      Among his accomplishments, Sternberg helped to resolve the conflict over a convent of Carmelite nuns that opened in 1983 near the Nazi concentrations camps where nearly a million Jews were killed, a controversy that ended on Monday with the handover of the convent to the Polish government.

      The Templeton Prize was established in 1972 by investment manager John M. Templeton to recognize people who advance the world's understanding of religion. The prize will be awarded at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May.

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March 5, 1998 volume 9, no. 46         DAILY CATHOLIC