Ashley, Benedict M. 1915-

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ASHLEY, Benedict M. 1915-

PERSONAL: Born May 3, 1915, in Neodesha, KS; son of Arthur Burton (an accountant) and Bertha (a homemaker; maiden name, Moore) Ashley. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., M.A. (comparative literature), 1937; University of Notre Dame, Ph.D. (political science), 1941; Aquinas Institute of Theology, Ph.D. (philosophy), 1949; University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, master of sacred theology, 1979. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—3601 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108-2293. Office—Aquinas Institute of Theology, 3642 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108-3396.

CAREER: Priest, educator, and author. Aquinas Institute, River Forest, IL, instructor, 1952, professor in philosophy, 1957-69, president, 1962-69; Institute of Religion and Human Development, Texas Medical Center and St. Mary's Seminary, Houston TX, 1969-72; Aquinas Institute of Theology, Dubuque, IA, professor of moral theology, 1969-81; Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, MO, professor of moral theology, 1993-96, professor emeritus, 1996—; Pontifical Pope John II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Washington, DC, professor, 1988-92; Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis, faculty, 1994, 1996; Center for Health Care Ethics, St. Louis University, adjunct professor, 1997—; University of Chicago, visiting lecturer in humanities, 1999. Consultant on moral matters to National Catholic Bishops Conference, director of Albertus Magnus Lycum, and regent of studies. St. Albert Great Province, Dominican Fathers.

MEMBER: Common Ground Initiative, American Catholic Theological Society of America, Societas Internationalis Ethicae, Jacques Maritain Association, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Doctor Honoris Causa, Aquinas Institute of Theology; Papal Medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice; Thomas Linacre Award, National Federation of Catholic Physicians' Guilds.


(With Kevin D. O'Rourke) Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis, Catholic Health Association of the United States (St. Louis, MO), 1978, revised 4th edition, 1992.

Theologies of the Body: Humanist and Christian, Pope John Center (St. Louis, MO), 1985.

The Dominicans, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 1990.

(With Kevin D. O'Rourke) Ethics of Health Care: An Introductory Textbook, Georgetown University Press (Washington, DC), 1994, revised 3rd edition, 2002.

Spiritual Direction in the Dominican Tradition, Paulist Press (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor) Thomas Aquinas, the Gifts of the Spirit: Selected Spiritual Writings, selections translated by Matthew Rzeczkowski, New City Press (Hyde Park, NY), 1995.

Living the Truth in Love: A Biblical Introduction to Moral Theology, Alba House (New York, NY), 1996.

Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation, Catholic University of America Press (Washington, DC), 1996.

Choosing a World-View and Value-System: An Ecumenical Apologetics, Alba House (Nw York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Ann Garrido) The Theology of Priesthood, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 2000.

Love's Revelation: Old Testament-New Testament-Catechetics-Church History in Conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Priory Press (River Forest, IL), 2000.

Also author of autobiography A Friar's Folly, and numerous articles on bioethics and other topics.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Books on psychology and personhood and on how science enriches theology.

SIDELIGHTS: Benedict M. Ashley, author and editor of several books focusing on issues such as medical ethics and gender issues in the Roman Catholic Church, grew up in a Protestant household and originally set out to become a poet. While attending the University of Chicago, he developed Catholic friends and became an admirer of the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. He also eventually became a member of the Young People's Socialist League. He slowly underwent conversion to Catholicism, explaining on the Dominicans: Order of Preachers Web site: "When the study of Aquinas showed me that in Catholicism there was an intellectually profound view of reality, I realized that here was the best competition for Marxism." Although he disagreed with some social and political aspects of the Catholic Church, he still believed and was baptized in 1938. He added on the same Web site that "when I was baptized my comrades and student friends could not understand it or thought it was a passing phase in a poet's life, and I did not try to explain." Expelled from the Socialist Workers Party, Ashley eventually joined the priesthood and became an educator in bioethics and philosophy.

Ashley's publications include books focusing on Aquinas, the history of the Dominicans, and theology within the Catholic Church. For example, in his 1985 book, Theologies of the Body: Humanist and Christian, Ashley produced what has become a respected study of the Christian understanding of humans as bodily beings. As editor of Thomas Aquinas, the Gifts of the Spirit: Selected Spiritual Writings he gathers together an anthology of the noted Christian's writings, including commentaries on the Bible and Aquinas's less-explored works focusing on the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life. Ashley's 1996 book, Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation, is a collection of essays in which he discusses the role of women in the church, arguing that it is a part of the natural hierarchy that men should hold the leadership roles within the church to the exclusion of women. Writing in Theological Issues, Mary E. Hines found the book "troubling" and said it "will be persuasive only to those who already share [Ashley's] views and will, as anticipated in his introduction, anger and offend many others."

Ashley is widely known both within the church and medical circles for his writings on medical ethics. He is coauthor with Kevin D. O'Rourke of a 1978 collection, Healthcare Ethics: A Theological Analysis, which the authors have revised for several editions. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Richard Dayringer commented on the fourth edition and said that the book "reflects a balanced scholarship that is tightly written and well argued." He also noted, "The writing is highly readable and quite informative. All in all, the book stands in the first rank of bioethics textbooks." Ashley is also the author of Choosing a World-View and Value-System: An Ecumenical Apologetics. In this 2000 publication, the author compares and contrasts many of the world's major value systems and views on life, from Humanism and Confucianism to those of the Abrahamic religions. On the occasion of Ashley's eighty-fifth birthday in 2000, Mark S. Latkovic wrote on the Dominicans: Order of Preachers Web site: "In either reading Benedict's publications or conversing with him, one has the sense that you are in the presence of, in the words that Ralph McInerny applied to him, 'a giant.'"



Issues in Law and Medicine, summer, 1995, review of Ethics of Health Care: An Introductory Textbook, 2nd edition, p. 96; spring, 2003, review of Ethics of Health Care, 3rd edition, p. 304.

Journal of the American Medical Association, August 11, 1999, Richard Dayringer, review of Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis, p. 593.

Theological Studies, June, 1998, Mary E. Hines, review of Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation, p. 354.


Dominicans: Order of Preachers Web site, (July 14, 2004), Benedict M. Ashley, "Vision and Revision: Autobiographical Notes"; Mark S. Latkovic, "Of Dominicans and Dissertations: Reflections on the Life and Thought of Benedict Ashley, O.P., S.T.M."*

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Ashley, Benedict M. 1915-

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