Jacques Maritain at the Catholic Worker. Photo: Catholic Worker

The 1870s, which is to say the final years of the long pontificate of Pius IX, were not a boom decade for the Catholic intellect. There was, of course, John Henry Newman, but after Newman virtually nobody who merits attention today. This broad retreat of Catholic art and philosophy had much to do with the state of siege, both political and intellectual, in which the Church found itself at the time. Although he began his pontificate as a “liberal,” Pius became increasingly disenchanted with the materialism and...

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