Document Type

Contribution to Book



Publication Date



Pickwick Publications

Source Publication

Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter

Source ISSN



The thesis of the unity of the virtues—one must possess all of the virtues to possess even one of them—was upheld in different forms by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. However, contemporary moralists almost universally decry this thesis as distorting the nature of virtue as it is materialized in the lives and actions of ordinary people. Unfortunately, academic discourse regarding the unity of the virtues has tended to be either entirely theoretical or narrowly limited to particular individuals or groups as “test cases” regarding the validity of the thesis. It is both significant and reinvigorating, therefore, that in his apostolic exhortation, , Pope Francis evokes the thesis of the unity Evangelii gaudium of the virtues as pivotal to the task of evangelization. The purpose of the current essay is to reevaluate the merit and practical applicability of the unity of the virtues in light of the “missionary option” as proposed by Pope Francis.


Published version. "The Unity of the Virtues in a Missionary Key," in Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter by John C. Cavadini and Donald Wallenfang. Eugene, Oregon : Pickwick Publications, 2018. 92-101. Publisher link. © 2018 Wipf and Stock Publishers. Used with permission.

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