Scharper, Philip J.

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Editor, author, educator, lecturer, ecumenist; b. Baltimore, Md., Sept. 15, 1919; d. North Tarrytown, N.Y., May 5, 1985. For almost 11 years (193748) he was a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, during which time he received a B.A. (1943), Ph.L.(1944), and M.A. in education (1945) from Georgetown University, and an M.A. in English (1947) from Fordham University. Subsequently he was assistant professor of English at Xavier University, Cincinnati (194850) and Fordham (195155).

From 195557 he was associate editor of commonweal, and from 195770 editor-in-chief of Sheed and Ward, Inc., New York, where he introduced North Americans to the writings of such prominent theologians as Karl rahner, Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx, John Courtney murray, and Robert McAfee Brown. During this period, he was the first Catholic president and chairman of the board of the Religious Education Association of the U.S. and Canada. In 1964, he was a special consultant to the commission of the Second Vatican Council responsible for drafting Schema XIII which was later incorporated into Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern world. He served in a similar capacity in 1967 for the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. As national Catholic co-chairman for Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, he helped persuade Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to publicly oppose U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

In 1970 Scharper was invited by the maryknoll fathers to be the founding editor of orbis books. Under his leadership, Orbis brought liberation theology and the spiritual experience of the Third World to the attention of the First World. Among the authors he introduced are Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Juan Luis Segundo.

Married in 1949, he and his wife, Sarah Jane Moormann, had six children. Together they wrote over 30 television scripts for religious programming, for which they received over 20 awards, including two Emmys. In addition to numerous articles, he wrote Meet the American Catholic (1968) and edited and contributed to 16 books.

He was recognized internationally as a compassionate, courtly, and articulate advocate of a more just and humane world.

Bibliography: p. scharper, ed., American Catholics: A Protestant-Jewish View (New York 1959); Torah and Gospel: Jewish and Catholic Theology in Dialogue (New York 1966). p. and s. scharper, eds., The Gospel in Art by the Peasants of Solentiname (Maryknoll, N.Y. 1984). m. glazier, ed., Where We Are: American Catholics in the 1980sA Celebration for Philip Scharper (Wilmington, Del. 1985).

[s. b. scharper]