Sunday, 3 June 2012

R.I.P., Rodger Charles SJ

Last week an old friend died – Fr Rodger Charles, the UK's greatest expert on Catholic social doctrine. I want to pay tribute to him here. At the turn of the century, he and I were collaborating in the writing of the world's first MA in CST, which would have been offered at Plater College, accredited by the Pontifical Lateran University under Cardinal Scola, if Plater itself had not mysteriously been closed by the Catholic bishops the following year. His greatest book on the subject was the two-volume textbook, Christian Social Witness and Teaching (Gracewing). He also wrote a smaller book called An Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching (Ignatius Press). His approach was less philosophical and theological than historical and doctrinal. He had a difficult life, being part of a religious order by which at times he felt frustrated. Several books he had planned and even written were never able to appear. But he remained ever faithful to the Society of Jesus and to the Church, and did what God permitted him to do in his place and time. In 2008 he was honoured by the Pius XI Award, given by the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS) to men and women who have made an outstanding contribution to building up a true Catholic social science. May he rest in peace.


  1. I clearly remember my first meeting with Fr Rodger Charles it was at a Conference in Hull on Rerum Novarum. As a recent graduate and a very recent convert to Catholicism I was really impressed to hear such an expert on Catholic Social Teaching and well-known Jesuit state that the litmus test of Catholic Orthodoxy was acceptance of Humanae Vitae. He added something to the effect that if it was up to him to choose he would have wished that it was another topic (not sexual morality, I understood). His words have always stayed with me and now 20 years on I continue to think what prophetic words they were. May he rest in peace
    Caroline Sanderson

  2. I met Fr Charles a few years ago (having read his works on Catholic Social Thought). We had lunch together and he told me a little of his life and his vocation. Although we met only for an hour or so it made a great impression on me. A wonderful man and I trust that he is now enjoying his reward.