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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas