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For other uses, see Commonweal (disambiguation).
Commonweal (magazine).jpg
Editor Paul Baumann
Frequency 22 issues a year
Circulation 20,000
First issue 1924
Company Commonweal Foundation
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
ISSN 0010-3330

Commonweal is an American journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics. It is headquartered in The Interchurch Center in New York City.


Founded in 1924 by Michael Williams (1877–1950) and the Calvert Associates, Commonweal is the oldest Catholic journal of opinion in the United States.


The journal, tagged as "A Review of Religion, Politics, and Culture", is run as a not-for-profit enterprise and managed by a nine-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.[1]

Commonweal publishes editorials, columns, essays, and poetry, along with film, book, and theater reviews. Twenty-two 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.[2]


Although Commonweal maintains a relatively strong focus on issues of specific interest to progressive 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.

Moreover, despite its distinctly Catholic character, Commonweal has consistently spurned sectarianism and religious dogmatism, in turn attracting contributors from all points of the mainstream political spectrum in the United States.

For instance, Commonweal criticized the tactics employed by the Senator Joseph McCarthy (who was a Catholic), supported domestic opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, questioned some aspects of the 1968 Papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, a document spelling out the Catholic Church's position on contraception, but it continues to take a stance against legalized abortion.

Commonweal published several articles in support of censured theologian Roger Haight in 2001,[3] 2007,[4] and 2009.[5]


As of 2011, Commonweal's staff includes:

  • Editor: Paul Baumann
  • Associate Editors: Matthew Boudway, Grant Gallicho, Mollie Wilson O'Reilly
  • Poetry: Rosemary Deen
  • Screen (review): Richard Alleva, Rand Richards Cooper
  • Editorial Assistant: Ellen Koneck
  • Publisher: Tom Baker
  • Marketing Coordinator: Kaitlin Campbell
  • Production: Tiina Aleman
  • Digital Editor: Dominic Preziosi
  • Business Manager: Jim 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

The previous editors were Peter Steinfels and his wife, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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". http://proquest .umi .com/pqdweb ?did=760722021 &sid=1 &Fmt=1 &clientId=12010&RQT=309 &VName=PQD

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See e.g., Summa Theologiae, I-II, Q. 97, A. 1
  2. ^ Commonweal & Woe
  3. ^ Haight on trial - Catholic theologian Roger Haight
  4. ^ Not so heterodox: in defense of Roger Haight
  5. ^ The Vatican levies further penalties on Roger Haight

External links[edit]