Commonweal (magazine)

Commonweal is a liberal[1][2][a] American Catholic journal of opinion, edited and managed by lay Catholics, headquartered in The Interchurch Center in New York City. It is the oldest independent Roman Catholic journal of opinion in the United States.

Commonweal (magazine)
EditorPaul Baumann
Frequency20 issues a year
First issue1924
CompanyCommonweal Foundation
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City


Founded in 1924 by Michael Williams (1877–1950) and the Calvert Associates, Commonweal is the oldest independent Roman Catholic journal of opinion in the United States. The magazine was originally modeled on The New Republic and The Nation but “expressive of the Catholic note” in covering literature, the arts, religion, society, and politics.

Commonweal has published the writing of François Mauriac, Georges Bernanos, Hannah Arendt, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Jacques Maritain, Dorothy Day, Graham Greene, Emmanuel Mounier, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Thomas Merton, Wilfrid Sheed, Paul Ramsey, Joseph Bernardin, Abigail McCarthy, Christopher Lasch, Walter Kerr, Marilynne Robinson, Luke Timothy Johnson, Terry Eagleton, Elizabeth Johnson, and Andrew Bacevich. It has printed the short fiction of Evelyn Waugh, J. F. Powers, Alice McDermott, and Valerie Sayers; the poetry of W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, John Updike, Les Murray, John Berryman, and Marie Ponsot; and the artwork of Jean Charlot, Rita Corbin, Fritz Eichenberg, and Emil Antonucci.[4]


The journal, tagged as "A Review of Religion, Politics, and Culture." is run as a not-for-profit enterprise and managed by an eighteen-member board of directors. The word "commonweal" is a reference to an important term in the political philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, who argued that legitimate leaders must prioritize the "common good" of the "commonweal" in making political decisions.[5]

Commonweal publishes editorials, columns, essays, and poetry, along with film, book, and theater reviews. Twenty issues of Commonweal are released each year, with a circulation of approximately 20,000. In 1951, Commonweal was hit by financial troubles and almost shut down because of a loss in subscribers.[6]


Although Commonweal maintains a relatively strong focus on issues of specific interest to liberal Catholics, this focus is not exclusionary. A broad range of issues—religious, political, social, and cultural—are examined independent of any relationship to Catholicism and the Church. Commonweal has attracted contributors from all points of the mainstream political spectrum in the United States.

Commonweal published several articles in support of censured theologian Roger Haight in 2001,[7] 2007,[8] and 2009.[9]


As of 2016, Commonweal's staff includes:

  • Editor: Paul Baumann
  • Executive Editor: Dominic Preziosi
  • Senior Editor: Matthew Boudway
  • Associate Editors: Matthew Sitman
  • Poetry: Rosemary Deen
  • Screen (review): Richard Alleva, Rand Richards Cooper
  • Editorial Assistant: Regina Munch
  • Publisher: Thomas Baker
  • Marketing Coordinator: Kaitlin Campbell
  • Production: Tiina Aleman
  • Digital Editor: Dominic Preziosi
  • Editor at Large: Mollie Wilson O'Reilly
  • Copy Editor: Susanne Washburn
  • Business Manager: James Hannan
  • Stage/Media/Television (review): Celia Wren
  • Columnists: E. J. Dionne, Anthony Domestico, John Garvey, Cathleen Kaveny, Jo McGowan, Mollie Wilson O'Reilly, Charles R. Morris, William Pfaff, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels

Previous editors of Commonweal have been Michael Williams (1924-38); Edward S. Skillin (1938-67); James O’Gara (1967-84); Peter Steinfels (1984-88); and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels (1988-2002).

See also


  1. ^ Though see Sandbrook (2007) and Clancy & Green (1987)[3] for a more refined comparison of Commonweal with the American liberal tradition.


  1. ^ Jordan, P.; Baumann, P. (1999). Commonweal Confronts the Century: Liberal Convictions, Catholic Tradition. Touchstone. back cover. ISBN 978-0-684-86276-7.
  2. ^ Sandbrook, D. (2007). Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-307-42577-5.
  3. ^ Clancy, W.; Green, E. (1987). Time's Covenant: The Essays and Sermons of William Clancy. University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8229-7645-5.
  4. ^ Commonweal History
  5. ^ See e.g., Summa Theologiae, I-II, Q. 97, A. 1
  6. ^ Commonweal & Woe
  7. ^ Haight on trial - Catholic theologian Roger Haight
  8. ^ Not so heterodox: in defense of Roger Haight
  9. ^ "The Vatican levies further penalties on Roger Haight". Archived from the original on 2014-02-25. Retrieved 2009-01-22.

Further reading

  • Rodger Van Allen, The Commonweal and American Catholicism: The Magazine, the Movement, the Meaning, Philadelphia: Fortune Press, 1974
  • Rodger Van Allen, Being Catholic: Commonweal from the Seventies to the Nineties, Loyola University Press, 1993
  • Patrick Jordan and Paul Baumann, Commonweal Confronts the Century: Liberal Convictions, Catholic Tradition, Touchstone, 1999
  • Robert B. Clements, Ph.D. (1972). "The Commonweal: The Williams-Shuster Years".

External links


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Commonweal or common weal may refer to:

Common good, what is shared and beneficial for members of a given community

Common Weal, a Scottish think tank and advocacy group

Commonweal (magazine), an American lay-Catholic-oriented magazine

Commonweal (newspaper), a British socialist newspaper

Commonwealth, a form of government without a monarch in which people have governmental influence

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