Timothy Radcliffe

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Timothy Radcliffe

Master of the Order of Preachers
Church Roman Catholic Church
In office1992–2001
PredecessorDamian Byrne
Successor Carlos Azpiroz Costa
Personal details
Born (1945-08-22) 22 August 1945 (age 77) [1]
London, England
Denomination Catholic
Residence Blackfriars, Oxford
OccupationPriest, academic, theologian

Timothy Peter Joseph Radcliffe, OP (born 22 August 1945) is an English Roman Catholic priest and Dominican friar who served as master of the Order of Preachers from 1992 to 2001. He is the only member of the English Province to hold that office.


Radcliffe served as director of the Las Casas Institute of Blackfriars, Oxford which promotes social justice and human rights. [2] He has been a supporter of outreach to LGBT Catholics.


Timothy Radcliffe was born on 22 August 1945 in London. He studied at Worth Preparatory School (Worth School) in Sussex, Downside School in Somerset and St John's College, Oxford. He entered the Dominican Order in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1971.


During the mid-1970s, Radcliffe was based at the West London Catholic Chaplaincy. He taught scriptures at Oxford and was elected provincial of England in 1988. [3] In 1992, he was elected master of the Dominican Order, holding that office until 2001. During his tenure as master, Radcliffe served as ex-officio grand chancellor of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

In 2001, after the expiration of his term as master, Radcliffe took a sabbatical year. In 2002, he became again a simple member of the Dominican community of Oxford. He now preaches and carries out public speaking internationally.

In 2015, Radcliffe was named a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. [4]

Although not a topic Radcliffe has often written on in his numerous publications, he has publicly defended the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage:

"The Catholic Church does not oppose gay marriage. It considers it to be impossible... Marriage is founded on the glorious fact of sexual difference and its potential fertility. Without this, there would be no life on this planet, no evolution, no human beings, no future. Marriage takes all sorts of forms, from the alliance of clans through bride exchange to modern romantic love. We have come to see that it implies the equal love and dignity of man and woman. But everywhere and always, it remains founded on the union in difference of male and female. Through ­ceremonies and sacrament this is given a deeper meaning, which for Christians includes the union of God and humanity in Christ." [5]


In 2003, Oxford awarded Radcliffe an honorary Doctor of Divinity. [6] The Chancellor, the Right Honorable Christopher Patten, ended the award citation with the following words:

"I present a man distinguished both for eloquence and for wit, a master theologian who has never disregarded ordinary people, a practical man who believes that religion and the teachings of theology must be constantly applied to the conduct of public life: the Most Reverend Timothy Radcliffe, MA, sometime Master of the Dominican Order and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity." [7]

Radcliffe received the 2007 Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing for his book What Is the Point of Being A Christian? Radcliffe is a patron of the International Young Leaders Network and helped launch Las Casas Institute, dealing with issues of ethics, governance and social justice. These are both projects of Blackfriars, Oxford.

Radcliffe is also patron of Catholic AIDS Prevention and Support, Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament, and 'Embrace the Middle East, as well as board member of Fellowship and Aid to the Church in the East.




Letters to the Order

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  1. Catalogus – Province of England of the Order of Preachers (2013–2014), p. 41
  2. "Las Casas Institute". bfriars.ox.ac.uk/hall/las-casas/las-casas-people/. Archived from the original on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  3. Catalogue of the Province of England of the Order of Preachers 2010, p. 7
  4. "Controversial preacher, writer Timothy Radcliffe given Vatican role".
  5. Radcliffe, Timothy (8 March 2012). "'Can Marriage ever Change?'". The Tablet . UK. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  6. Timothy Radcliffe's Honorary D.D. Citation
  7. Oxford University Gazette, "Chancellor's Honorary Degree Ceremony, 21 November 2003", Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4677, Wednesday, 26 November 2003, http://www.ox.ac.uk/gazette/2003-4/supps/1_4677.htm#11Ref. Retrieved 9 August 2013
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Master General of the Dominican Order
Succeeded by