Benedict M. Ashley, O.P. (born Winston Norman Ashley on May 3, 1915 - Died February 22, 2013), was a theologian and philosopher who had a major influence on 20th century Catholic theology and ethics in America through his writing, teaching, and consulting with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Author of 19 books, Ashley 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. Ashley taught at numerous institutions and is still an active teacher, consultant, and author.
Ashley was an Associate Faculty of Philosophy for the Institute for Advanced Physics, a physics research and educational organization that is also trying to establish lasting links to non-physics communities by showing the relevance of physics to all areas of life.
As a young man, Ashley was a committed atheist and communist. As an undergraduate he studied under Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins at the University of Chicago and there received his Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature and was a graduate assistant to Adler. For a time a member of the Young Communist League and then of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party, through his study under Adler of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas he was baptized in the Catholic Church and received his Doctorate in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. He then entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in which he was ordained in 1948. He received a second Ph.D. in Philosophy and the Master’s in Sacred Theology, the latter a post-doctoral degree conferred by an international commission of the Order of Preachers. He has also received an honorary doctorate from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO, of which he was President from 1963-1969. Also he has been Professor of Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, Washington, D.C, affiliate of the Lateran University, Rome, and for his work there was honored with the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice conferred by John Paul II. He was a Visiting Lecturer in Humanities at the University of Chicago (1999). He was for some years in the post-Vatican II period a consultant in moral theology for the Committee on Doctrine and Pastoral Practice of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in their 3rd edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Facilities. Until his death in 2013, Fr. Ashley was an Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis and an Associate Professor at the Center for Health Care Ethics, Medical School of St. Louis University. During 2001-2002 he was visiting lecturer at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, Washington DC. He was formerly a Senior Fellow of the National Catholic for Bioethics, Philadelphia in its first years.
Click here for Fr. Ashley's The Dominican Theological and Philosophical Contribution published in this blog.