Feb 17, 2018
"We are all students of Grisez now." The man who said that several years ago was a Catholic theologian not generally seen as being a disciple of Germain Grisez. He was simply acknowledging the influence Grisez had already had on serious students of moral thought – an influence that, one might add following Grisez's death, seems likely to continue growing for a long time to come.
Grisez, a cherished friend with whom I was privileged to collaborate in writing several books, once gave me a striking indication of that. Interviewing him for a profile I was writing, I asked whether he could point to any impact he'd had on the thinking of the pope of that day, John Paul II.
Yes, he said. He then cited the landmark 1993 encyclical on moral principles, Veritatis Splendor, where John Paul discusses human goods as fundamental principles of morality (something new in a document of the papal magisterium), and the encyclical's treatment of the Beatitudes as embodying a vision of the moral life meant for all Christians without exception. Both things are major elements in Grisez's moral theory.
He was born in Cleveland and studied there at John Carroll University, at the University of Chicago, where he received his doctorate in philosophy, and at the Dominican house of studies in River Forest, Ill., where he pursued his interest in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. He taught at Georgetown University, Campion College in Regina, Saskatchewan, and, for 30 years before retiring in 2009, at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He died February 1 at the age of 88.