A Prayerful Farewell to Fr. Ashley

Note: (Coming Spring 2013) Rev. Benedict Ashley, O.P.,Healing for Freedom: A Christian Perspective on Personhood and Psychotherapy. More

On February 23, Fr. Benedict M. Ashley, O.P. died in Chicago at the age of 97. He has been one of the most influential Catholic philosophers and theologians of the twentieth century in America.  He is especially known for his work in bioethics and metaphysics, and Catholic dialogue with the sciences.

Because of his love for the pursuit of truth in active conversation between Catholic thought and contemporary science, Fr. Ashley felt a great affinity for the work of IPS.  He designed the philosophical and theological integration coursework at the Institute, where he was the inaugural professor of integration.  He taught at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences from 2000-2002, before retiring to his home province.

He participated in the Institute’s anthropology project (2001 to present), in which he served as Senior Scholar in shaping two volumes: the collection of essays entitled Philosophical Virtues and Psychological Strengths (forthcoming, Sophia Institute Press) and his monograph Healing for Freedom: A Christian Perspective on Personhood and Psychotherapy (March 2013, The Institute for the Psychological Sciences Press).

He has also contributed a Newman Lecture (2005) and an essay in Philosophical Psychology (2009).  The IPS Library houses the Benedict Ashley Archives & Special Collection.

The IPS community of faculty, staff, and students are thankful for the gift that Fr. Ashley has been to the Church.

We pray that he may rest in peace with our Lord.

Fr. Charles Sikorsky, L. C., President of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Dean William Nordling, Academic Dean
Dr. Glady Sweeney, Dean Emerita
Dr. Craig Steven Titus, Director of Integrative Studies

Institute for the Psychological Sciences
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The Dominican website ( gives the following account of his life:

“Fr Benedict M. Ashley, a foremost theologian and philosopher of the Central Province of St Albert the Great, USA has passed on. He had a major influence on the 20th century Catholic Moral Theology, Moral Philosophy and Ethics in America through his writings, teachings, and consultations. He passed on peacefully on Saturday, 23rd of February, 2013.

He was born in Kansas in 1915 and raised in Blackwell, Oklahoma. He started off as a committed atheist and communist but after studying the works of St Thomas Aquinas, he was baptized in the Catholic Church. He entered the Dominican Order, made his religious profession in 1942 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1948.

He has Doctorates from the University of Notre Dame (Political Science) and Aquinas Institute, River Forest, Illinois (Philosophy). He also has a post-doctoral Master of Sacred Theology from University of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome and a Honorary Doctor of Theology from Aquinas Institute.

He has taught various subjects in various capacities in the following institutes; Aquinas Institute (1952-69), Pontifical Institute of Philosophy, River Forest (1957-69), Institute of Religion and Human Development, Texan Medical Centre, Houston (1969-72), Aquinas Institute of Theology, Dubuque (1969-81), Aquinas Institute of Theology, St Louis (1981-88), Pontifical Pope John II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, Washington DC (1988-92), Kenrick Seminary, St Louis (1996-2004), Center for Health Care Ethics, St Louis University (1997-2003), Institute for Psychological Sciences, Washington DC (2001), John Paul II Cultural Center, Washington DC (2001), Institute for Advanced Physics (2003) and the University of Chicago,

He has been a consultant to a number of groups, notable among this is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. He received the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from John Paul II and he is also a Senior Fellow of the National Catholics Center for Bioethics, USA.

He has author some 22 books and even more articles. He was a major exponent of the “River Forest School” of Thomism. Health Care Ethics, which he co-authored in 1975 and now in its fifth edition, continues to be a fundamental text in the field of Catholic Medical Ethics.

May his soul rest in peace.”