Maritain, Jacques (1882–1973) By Chappel, James
Jacques Maritain was a leader among those who attempted to update and transform Catholic teaching for the modern world. Born to a Protestant republican, he converted to Catholicism alongside his wife in 1906. At the time, French Catholicism was a profoundly conservative force, and Maritain was closely involved with Charles Maurras and the monarchist, anti-Semitic Action française. Maritain was above all a revitalizer of the Thomist tradition, and in these early years he interpreted Thomas in support of the agnostic Maurras. After 1926, when the Vatican condemned Maurras, Maritain embarked on his own course. As described in The Primacy of the Spiritual (1927), Maritain now argued that Aquinas counselled a strict separation between the political and spiritual realms.