(7 March 1925 in Brussels – 6 June 2017 in Quito)
Houtart studied philosophy and theology at the seminary of Mechelen (Belgium) and became a priest in 1949. He earned a master’s degree in political and social sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). He earned a degree at the International Superior Institute of Urbanism (Brussels, Belgium). He earned a PhD in sociology from the Catholic University of Louvain and served as professor there from 1958 till 1990
His doctoral thesis was based on the sociology of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He was an author and co-author of numerous publications on socio-religious matters. He served as the chief editor of the International Journal of Sociology of Religion, “Social Compass” for nearly forty years (1960–1999). He also advised the international Catholic journal Concilium which was founded at the Nijmegen University, on the issues of sociology of religion.
He participated as a peritus expert in the sessions of Vatican II (1962–1965) playing a key role in the formation of the introduction of the Gaudium et spes. Over the years, Houtart developed a dialectical approach to the study of world religions.