Skip to main content
Please contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for assistance with accessing these materials.

Patrick O'Mahony Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS221

Scope and Contents

Material in this collection centers around the human rights work of Fr. Patrick O'Mahony, a major focus of which was on ethical employment and working condition policies and practices of multi-national companies and subsidiaries in the Third World, including South Africa, South America, and countries in Asia. Fr. O'Mahony undertook a study of the moral implications of investments and the responsibilities of shareholders, particularly with regard to the policies of his own diocese of Birmingham. His early findings, primarily focusing on South Africa, resulted in the publication of "Investment: A Blessing or a Curse?" (1969). Subsequently, the Archdiocese of Birmingham disinvested from three companies because of their employment practices. Some years later, Fr. O'Mahony broadened his research to include other Third World countries. Whereas this led the archdiocese to disinvest from a further thirteen companies, Fr. O'Mahony felt that such a move, in general, was harmful and advocated investment in ways that would benefit the countries. The series of files concerning the many companies surveyed by Fr. O'Mahony includes correspondence with executives and senior officers of those companies. Fr. O'Mahony's commitment to human rights advocacy is substantiated by the correspondence files in this collection relating to his support for the work of international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, for which he founded the first Church-sponsored group, and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, of which he was a patron. Files relating to his work as a member of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Commission (1969-1975), and as vice-chairman (1972-1975) are also included, as is material on London-based humanitarian groups concerned with health, living and working conditions for the underprivileged both in Britain and abroad, such as the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS), and the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR). A notable item is a typed transcript of a letter from Mother Teresa to Fr. O'Mahony thanking him for a delivery of medical supplies to Calcutta, 1972 (Folder 1:81). Another portion of the collection relates to Fr. O'Mahony's concern for the ethics of embryology and genetics especially in Eastern Europe, as well as ethical issues relating to abortion, particularly from the standpoint of the Catholic Church. Correspondence on these issues includes that from scientists and researchers in East Germany, Poland and Russia, as well as from such notable British prelates and clergymen as George Patrick Dwyer, Maurice Couve de Murville, Basil Christopher Butler, Thomas Corbishley, S.J., Hugh William Montefiore, and Arthur Michael Ramsey. Other correspondents include members of Parliament such as Lord Denning, and W. Percy Grieve. Fr. O'Mahony was an active contributor to several Catholic journals including "The Clergy Review," for which he served on the editorial board; "The Month," and "The Tablet." Correspondence with the editors of these journals is a part of the collection and includes letters from John Frances Xavier Harriott, Peter Hebblethwaite, and Hugh Kay (editor) of "The Month"; Michael Richards (editor) of "The Clergy Review"; and Thomas Ferrier Burns (editor) of "The Tablet.


  • 1954 - 1992
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1989


Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical Note

O'Mahony was born at Bandon, Country Cork, Ireland, on June 28, 1925. His father served in the British Merchant Navy in both World Wars. During his childhood, the family moved to England where O'Mahony lived until he was six. Fr. O'Mahony completed his education in Ireland, and began theological studies there. In 1946 he returned to England to study at Oscott College. Three years later he was ordained for the Birmingham Diocese. He then held a number of curacies in Birmingham parishes until his appointment in 1962 as priest of Shirley in Solihull, Warwickshire. There his work began in earnest, and included building the new church of Our Lady of the Wayside, which features remarkable work by sculptor Dame Elizabeth Frink (see Folders 2:32 and 2:42), such as the Risen Christ over the altar. Throughout his life, Fr. O'Mahony worked to realize his vision of an integrated world in which pastoral care, the eucharist and social action were all parts of a whole; and the protection of "human rights any where was the concern of people everywhere..." (from article by Paul Oestreicher in "The Independent" December 31, 1991). Important accomplishments included his formation of the first church-based Amnesty International group; an annual donation by the parish of more than a quarter million pounds worth of medical supplies and disaster relief; and leadership in the Commission for International Justice and Peace and the Linacre Centre for the Study of the Ethics of Health Care, of which he was governor. In addition to his many contributions to journals such as "The Clergy Review," "The Month," and "The Tablet," other publications by Fr. O'Mahony include "Catholics and Divorce" (1958); "The Fantasy of Human Rights" (1978); Multinationals and Human Rights" (1980); "Swordw and Ploughshares" (1986); and a doctoral thesis, "A Question of Life: Its Beginning and Transmission - A Moral Perspective of the New Genetics in the West, the U.S.S.R., Poland and East Germany," (1990). He received his doctorate from the University of Birmingham in 1988, at the age of 63. Fr. O'Mahony died in Solihull on December 26, 1991. Sources for these notes: obituary by Paul Oestreicher, chairman, British Section, Amnesty International, in "The Independent" (December 31, 1991); and obituary in the "Daily Telegraph" (January 2, 1992).


3 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024-04: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo.

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057