Peter Askonas

Ethicist and Catholic scholar

Peter Francis Askonas, businessman and ethicist: born Vienna 1 November 1919; married 1981 Countess Sylvia Des Fours (one stepson); died Epsom, Surrey 8 January 2007.

Working in his own family business led Peter Askonas to the ethical side of his profession and he became the co-founder, Chairman and later Honorary Vice-President of the Christian Association of Business Executives. For 16 years he was the association's Delegate to Uniapac (International Union of Christian Employers). He was subsequently appointed lecturer and researcher at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, and also as a lecturer and Fellow of Heythrop College, London University.

He was born in Vienna in 1919 of Jewish parents. Leaving Austria in 1937, he came to England and studied at Nottingham University for a Diploma in Textiles and Management. In the early 1940s he emigrated to Canada, where his war job was in aircraft manufacture (production study), some innovative work in analysis of behaviour patterns and statistical forecasting.

From 1943 he undertook part-time studies in philosophy at the Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto. There he was specially influenced by Etienne Gilson, the distinguished medieval scholar and academic expert in ethics and Catholic social teaching, and Jacques Maritain. During this period he converted to Catholicism and, right to the end of his life, pursued an active interest in Catholic social teaching and its potential influence on public policy and business life, and always founded on the principles of Thomas Aquinas inherited from his two mentors.

He returned to England in 1947 and after the death of his father took over the senior executive of the family business Hellasco & Associated Companies, a medium group in textiles, with affiliated units in several European and East-Asian countries. This task occupied most of his working life until the business was taken over in the 1990s. Besides running the business and travelling frequently to the Far East, he continued with philosophy and theology studies.

Peter Askonas was introduced to Heythrop College by Fr Peter Hackett SJ in 1991 and taught courses there from 1991 to 1998 on Theology of Society and Citizenship and initiated series of Inter-collegiate Colloquia in this area. He was elected into the college's Fellowship in 2001.

In the 1980s he co-operated with the Rev Frank McHugh in setting up at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, in Surrey, the Christian Social Ethics Research Unit, which undertook research in Catholic social thought and public policy, with particular interest in finance ethics. This led to a number of joint publications on debt, morals and money. In 1990 this work moved to the Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund's College, Cambridge.

Peter Askonas organised conferences and seminars all over the country, and was instrumental in initiating discussion groups among the laity in the Catholic Church. A book very close to his heart, which he co-edited with Professor Stephen F. Frowen and contributed to, was Welfare and Values: challenging the culture of unconcern (1997). It was a follow-up of a conference held at St George's House, Windsor Castle, in 1991 and deals with the ever-growing gap between escalating costs of welfare to meet a wide range of social needs and available resources.

A further book entitled Social Inclusion: possibilities and tension followed in 2000. Co-edited with Angus Stewart, it examines against the background of globalisation, risk and cultural pluralism the problem of social exclusion and its possible remedies.

Peter Askonas had many interests and passions. His great love was the mountains, and he conquered many of the 4,000m peaks in the Alps. He was a member of the Swiss Alpine Club, section Zermatt, for 50 years.

He was also a music lover and connoisseur and was close friends with the singers Hans Hotter, Sena Jurinac, Hermann Prey and others, whom he knew through his sister Lies Askonas, the impresario and founder in 1955 of the Lies Askonas agency, now Askonas Holt.

Stephen Frowen

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Community / Stakeholder Manager - Solar PV

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

C# .Net Developer

£23000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: C# .Net Develop re...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor