About Carrie Gress, Ph.D. 54 Articles
Carrie Gress has a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America. She is the editor at the Catholic Women's online magazine Theology of Home. She is the author of several books including The Anti-Mary Exposed, Theology of Home, and . Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking. Visit her online at CarrieGress.com.


  1. Thank you Ms. Gress for this essay. I am going to look into the Theology of Home and share it with my wife.

    Happy 12th Day of Christmas!

  2. A fine pedagogical essay. Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum permits for multiple forms of legitimate government. Fundamentally Plato’s Republic is correctly perceived by Carrie Gress as more an overseer of the masses, while Aristotle emphasized individual integrity and the education of the masses in the virtues. Whereas Roman Marcus Tullius Cicero, considered the greatest statesman had a combined view consistent with Natural Law principles. “There is indeed a law, right reason, which is in accordance with nature ; existing in all, unchangeable, eternal. Commanding us to do what is right, forbidding us to do what is wrong. It has dominion over good men, but possesses no influence over bad ones. No other law can be substituted for it, no part of it can be taken away, nor can it be abrogated altogether. Neither the people or the senate can absolve from it. It is not one thing at Rome, and another thing at Athens : one thing to-day, and another thing to-morrow ; but it is eternal and immutable for all nations and for all time” (Cicero De Re Publica). Insofar as slavery Cicero tolerated it as a Roman institution but did not conscientiously abide to it, “When time and need require, we should resist with all our might, and prefer death to slavery and disgrace”. Ms Gress identifies the shortfall of Natural Law theory and slavery. However, Natural Law isn’t a set of rules in a handbook. “One can poke holes in the logic of Thomas Aquinas and John Locke [who defended slavery Locke the booty of war Aquinas the legacy of the Fall nonetheless amenable with certain rights] as scholars have done for centuries. But one can as easily choose to celebrate the spirit of the natural law tradition. The natural law tradition represents efforts rhetorically, rationally, and intuitively to derive principles of justice and goodness from basic facts about human characteristics, needs, and desires, where otherwise binding sovereign law may fall short” (Anita L Allen U PA Natural Law, Slavery, and the Right to Privacy Tort in Fordham Law Review Vol 81, 3). Maritain, Integral Humanism, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights. His third p Progressivism and one world government unfortunately neglects the reality of State coercive authority in conflict with Christian coercion [We believe not because of reasoned argument rather because God who can neither deceive or be deceived has spoken to us in his Son]. Maritain progressive by nature initially Marxist was easy prey for the seductive argument of Saul Alinsky, evident in Maritain’s embrace of the former’s Rules for Radicals in Maritain’s The Peasant of the Garonne. “MacIntyre embraced Aristotle’s notion of practices. Practices are those jobs, tasks, or activities that allow man to hone his character while focusing on another end” (Gress). MacIntyre seems more Aristotelian than pragmatist Aquinas. Carrie Gress summarizes a review of various political views ending with Emeritus Benedict’s “a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new.” That must be the singular ‘flavor’ underlying, not the precise form of any form of legitimate government, that from my perspective must be structured within a natural law framework as suggested by Cicero.

  3. As always, thank you Carrie Gress for a very educational and readable analysis. As a footnote, here’s an added thought on your sweeping point: “In Maritain’s early career — first as a Marxist, then as a Thomist — he also rejected liberalism.”

    Maritain and his wife, Raissa, went through a shared dark night of the soul while at the Sorbonne. She writes how it was intense searching combined with a deeper existential suffering, not any merely bookish academics, that brought them to their senses and onto the path to salvation:

    “If…if…and we went on adding dark stanza after dark stanza to this dirge of our distress. But there was always this conditional mood in our souls. There was always that little ray of hope, that door half open on the road to daylight [….] we would extend credit to existence, look upon it as an experiment to be made, in the hope that to our ardent plea, the meaning of life would reveal itself [….] But if the experiment should not be successful, the solution would be suicide; suicide before the years had accumulated their dust, before our youthful strength was spent. We wanted to die by a free act if it were impossible to live according to the truth” (“We Have Been Friends Together,” from the Memoirs of Raissa Maritain, Image, 1961).

    How radically true, “Both impulses [Maritain and McIntyre] represent real goods and real values that represent choices people have made throughout history about how they want to live” (Gress).

    • Just a word on Jacques Maritain. His writing was essential to me when first formally entering philosophy. His Intro was a great help. I’m familiar with his works, early life and the suicide pact he made with his love, Raïssa Oumansov, poet and philosopher, Russian Jew studying in France, if they couldn’t discover truth. Positivism, sister Empiricism which held sway didn’t provide that. It wasn’t until they began attending the lectures of Henri Bergson at the Collège de France, at the suggestion I believe of a Dominican that they found the doorway out of the intellectual prison of the empirical fallacy. A heresy that infected Britain and the illness logical positivism. His views were expansive influencing many. Unfortunately the later in life dissatisfaction with unresolved world dynamics, systemic poverty, the plight of the underprivileged seemed why Alinsky, who would convince Paul VI, many within the Church of his modus operandi for achieving social justice would beguile him.

  4. This essay and the accompanying comments are extraordinarily valuable and enlightening. I was introduced to both Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and Thomistic philosophy in the 1940s. RN led me to the study of Economics with a particular focus on labor issues and industrial relations. In my work I was struck with the compatibility between the work of progressive institutional economists, e.g., John Commons, and those Catholics who worked within the framework that began with Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum. My view of progressivism in recent years has shifted, and I now see much in it that appears incompatible with the social order aimed at by Catholic social teaching. For this reason I am grateful for the explication in this essay of Maritain’s thought. It makes both the connection with the progressives and the source of the difficulty in the connection much clearer to me. In the 1970s I spent much time with Aristotle (Politics and Ethics) and Tocqueville (Democracy in America), and when After Virtue came out I studied it diligently and went on to read more of McIntyre’s work. I’m now in my nineties, but with the passing of time my admiration and grasp of McIntyre’s insights has grown and this essay has deepened my understanding. Thanks Ms. Gress for writing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.