Radcliffe, Timothy 1945- (Timothy Peter Joseph Radcliffe)

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Radcliffe, Timothy 1945- (Timothy Peter Joseph Radcliffe)


Born August 22, 1945, in England; son of Hugh John Reginald Joseph and Marie-Thérèse Radcliffe. Education: St. John's College, Oxford, M.A. Religion: Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, reading very long novels.


Office—Blackfriars, St. Giles, Oxford OX1 3LY, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Entered the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers), 1965; Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy, former chancellor; University of St. Thomas, Manila, Philippines, former chancellor; University of Fribourg, Switzerland, former member of theology faculty; École Biblique, Jerusalem, Israel, former chancellor; Imperial College, London, England, chaplain, 1976-78; Blackfriars, Oxford, England, teacher, 1978-88, prior, 1982-88; English Province of the Order of Preachers, provincial, 1988-92; Conference of Major Religious Superiors of England and Wales, president, 1991-92; Master of the Order of Preachers, 1992-2001. University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, John Tookey former scholar-in-residence.


Blackfriars (Oxford, England).


Prix de Littérature Religieuse, 2001; Prix Spiritualités d'Aujourd'Hui, 2001; Prix Libraries Religieuse, 2007; Michael Ramsey Award for Theological Writing, 2007. Recipient of honorary degrees, including Oxford University, D.D.; Providence College, S.T.D.; Barry University, L.L.D.; Ohio Dominican College, D.H.L.; Dominican University, D.H.L; University of Angers, honorary doctorate. Honorary fellow, St. John's College, Oxford, and John XXIII College, Australian National University. Named honorary citizen of Augusta, Italy, and Sepagua, Peru.


(Editor, with Fergus Kerr) Cornelius Ernst, Multiple Echo: Explorations in Theology, foreword by Donald MacKinnon, Darton (London, England), 1979.

Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation, Templegate (Springfield, IL), 1999.

I Call You Friends, Continuum (New York, NY), 2003.

Seven Last Words, Burns & Oates (New York, NY), 2004.

What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, Burns & Oates (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor) Just One Year: A Global Treasury of Prayer and Worship, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 2007.


Timothy Radcliffe was born into an old and respected English family. He grew up to study theology, graduating with his master's degree from St. John's College at Oxford University, and in 1965 he entered the Dominican Order. He has had a varied and prestigious career since then and is highly respected within the Roman Catholic Church. Radcliffe has served as priest, educator, and administrator, and sometimes all three at once. He has contributed to a variety of publications and is the author or editor of several books.

Radcliffe's Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation serves as a guide to people who question how relevant Christianity is in the modern-day world, and wonder at the endless promises that religious leaders often make that never seem to come true. Unlike other spiritual guide books, Sing a New Song does not promise perfection or miracles. Instead, Radcliffe draws a picture of a simple life of prayer and honesty and less materialistic considerations to prove that, in reality, this type of lifestyle is both more pleasurable and more realistic than the type of life more commonly witnessed in modern society. He preaches seeking deeper meaning and feelings, stressing that today's culture of instant gratification and disposable greed has resulted in more unhappiness and loneliness than existed when religion played a bigger part in people's lives. National Catholic Reporter contributor Patrick Marrin wrote: "If millions of people in the world today feel disoriented and disconnected, … it is because the dominant story underlying much of modern culture has failed to create human community or satisfy a deep spiritual hunger…. That failed story … is Western market capitalism and its scientific justification, the idea of evolutionary progress through natural competition that selects the strong and eliminates the weak."

In I Call You Friends, Radcliffe offers insight into the role of the Catholic Church in the modern world, where some parishioners dwell in highly developed, wealthy nations, while others struggle in impoverished, underdeveloped countries. He states that it is not as simple as just repeating the articles of faith over and over, or of devoting oneself to reading the Scriptures. He maintains, though, that people in each of these disparate segments of society are seeking the same thing: a relationship with God and a sense of direction based on the goodness of His teachings. Radcliffe continues to stress that this need for God, this desire to reach out and partake of the things that he offers, is ultimately what can unify these individuals from such varied economic and technological backgrounds. Christopher Ruddy, in a review for America, commented on Radcliffe's approach, which seems to combine the theories of his own Dominican doctrine with those of the Benedictines. He felt that "he has the rare gift of combining intelligence and wisdom, humor and insight," and remarked that I Call You Friends "offers a warm, unfussy eloquence that is deeply attractive." Ruddy concluded that "at a time when the West remains mired in a crisis of authority and an ever more global church engages religious pluralism, Radcliffe's vision of a church liberated by the truth of God's friendship offers a sure way forward."

What Is the Point of Being a Christian? offers Radcliffe's argument for being a Christian in the twenty-first century. It addresses all of the points of the naysayers who commonly put down organized religion, taking a hard look at what he perceives to be wrong with the Church. The author discusses the modern-day obsessions with financial gain and materialistic success, and then offers alternatives to this type of lifestyle that he believes would prove more beneficial and rewarding, while also capitalizing on the tenets of faith. Cathy O'Connell-Cahill remarked in U.S. Catholic that "here is a man who has seriously engaged the world around him, both learning from it and offering a confident critique." Antonia Ryan praised the structure of the work in a National Catholic Reporter review, writing that "his chapters progress through certain characteristics that Christian faith should bring." Lawrence S. Cunningham, in a review for Commonweal, noted that Radcliffe "exemplifies the very essence of the life of a Dominican: contemplata aliis tradere—to hand on to others the things he has himself deeply pondered."

Radcliffe told CA: "I had written many academic articles when I was teaching at Blackfriars, Oxford. I first thought it might be possible to write a book when in Colombia I came across a book which I did not know I had written! It was a collection of letters that I had written to the Dominican Order. That encouraged me to have the confidence to write.

"Two of my brethren, Herbert McCabe, O.P. and Cornelius Ernst, have influenced my work. Herbert was a very acute philosopher, a student of Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Cornelius was the son of a Dutch Anglican Father and a Sri Lankan Buddhist mother and was fascinated by the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures.

"My writing process is cowlike. I need to chew the cud, read a lot, mull over things. Once I start, I write quickly, using several screens of the computer to ‘grow’ thoughts and gather material. The great challenge is to discover the form which carries the movement of the writing forward.

"[As a writer, I have been surprised by] the unexpected gifts that are given. One has to be still and somehow open to what will be given. This is the experience of nearly all writers.

"My favorite of my books is What Is the Point of Being a Christian? I was astonished by the responses of readers, especially from people who have endured hard times and looked for signs of hope.

"I hope that my books will give pleasure, but also invite people to think about faith in a broader context, taking into account films and novels, and their own experience. Religion becomes suffocating if it is consigned to some special portioned area of life."



America, Christopher Ruddy, December 17, 2001, "A Deeper, Larger Truth," p. 19; February 26, 2007, "Former Dominican Master General Discusses Hope," p. 7.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, April, 1996, "Failed Followers in Mark: Mark 13:12 as a Key for the Identification of the Intended Readers," p. 244.

Catholic Insight, April, 2006, "Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P.," p. 3.

Christian Century, May 15, 2007, "Book Marks," p. 41.

Commonweal, November 3, 2006, Lawrence S. Cunningham, "Religion Booknotes," p. 27.

Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Graham Christian, review of What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, p. 96.

National Catholic Reporter, November 14, 1986, "Priest Urges Bishops: Support ‘Work of Christ’; Says AIDS Victims Need Healing, Not Judgment," p. 7; August 14, 1992, "Dominican Head Watching ‘Lowerarchy,’" p. 14; February 21, 1997, "Dominican Tradition of Radical Witness," p. 24; July 4, 1997, "Dominican Selection of DiNoia Nullified," p. 14; December 10, 1999, Patrick Marrin, "Radcliffe's Vision Offers Antidote to Despair," p. 16; September 13, 2002, "Priest, Bishop Argue in Favor of a Married Clergy," p. 11; September 3, 2004, "Priests and the Crisis of Hope within the Church," p. 16; September 3, 2004, "Radcliffe's Talk Begs the Issues: Analysis of Priests' Demoralization Skirts Underlying Questions about Hierarchical Power," p. 17; July 15, 2005, "The Challenges Facing Christian Minorities," p. 17; April 14, 2006, Antonia Ryan, "Christian Quests and Questions," p. 14; May 5, 2006, "The Wit and Wisdom of Radcliffe: Former Head of Dominicans Has Reputation for Reconciliation," p. 6.

Theology, September 1, 2007, Edmund Newey, review of What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, p. 381.

Times Literary Supplement, February 10, 2006, Douglas Hedley, review of What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, p. 32.

U.S. Catholic, September, 2006, Cathy O'Connell-Cahill, "Book Report," p. 30; November, 2006, "Put Your Best Faith Forward: An Interview with Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P.," p. 18.


NCR Online,http://ncronline.org/ (October 8, 1999), John L. Allen, "English Aristocrat Who Runs the Dominicans Has a Common Touch."

Torch, Order of Preachers Web site,http://torch.op.org/ (February 26, 2008), author profile.

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