(Czech priest Tomas Halik smiles after being awarded the 2014 Templeton Prize in London March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris )

A Czech Catholic priest whose theology of paradox invites believers and atheists to dialogue has won the 2014 Templeton Prize, worth $1.83 million, for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.

Tomas Halik, who worked underground to promote democracy and morality before communism fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989, has “continuously opened vistas that advance humankind,” the U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation said on Thursday in announcing the prize.

The award is one of the world’s richest, worth more than the $1.2 million the Nobel Prize committee paid to its 2013 laureates. It honors a person who has contributed to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension” through insights, discoveries or practical work.

Previous winners include the Dalai Lama, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu and British astrophysicist Martin Rees.