The Tablet

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This article is about the London publication. For the weekly Catholic newspaper published in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, see The Tablet (Diocese of Brooklyn). For the former weekly Catholic newspaper published in New Zealand, see The New Zealand Tablet. For the American Jewish general interest online magazine, see Tablet Magazine.
The Tablet
Editor Catherine Pepinster
Categories Catholicism, Modernist
Frequency Weekly (except Christmas)
Total circulation
First issue May 16, 1840
Company Tablet Publishing Company
Country  United Kingdom
Language English
ISSN 0039-8837

The Tablet is a self-described progressive Catholic international weekly review published in London.[2] It was edited by Catherine Pepinster until January 2017.[3]


The Tablet was launched in 1840 by a Quaker convert to Catholicism, Frederick Lucas, 10 years before the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. It is the second-oldest surviving weekly journal in Britain, after The Spectator which was founded in 1828.[4]

For the first 28 years of its life, The Tablet was owned by lay Catholics. In 1868, the Rev. Herbert Vaughan (who was later made a cardinal), who had founded the only British Catholic missionary society, the Mill Hill Missionaries,[5] purchased the journal just before the First Vatican Council, which defined papal infallibility. At his death he bequeathed the journal to the Archbishops of Westminster, the profits to be divided between Westminster Cathedral and the Mill Hill Missionaries.[citation needed] The Tablet was owned by successive Archbishops of Westminster for 67 years. In 1935, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Arthur Hinsley sold the journal to a group of Catholic laymen. In 1976 ownership passed to the Tablet Trust, a registered charity.[6]

From 1936 to 1967, the review was edited by Douglas Woodruff, formerly of The Times, a historian and reputed wit whose hero was Hilaire Belloc.[7] His wide range of contacts and his knowledge of international affairs made the paper, it was said,[who?] essential reading in embassies around the world. He restored the fortunes of The Tablet, which had declined steeply. For many years (1938–1961) he was assisted by Michael Derrick, who after the Second World War was often acting editor. Woodruff was followed as editor by the publisher and, like Woodruff, part-owner Tom Burns, who served from 1967 to 1982. Burns, a conservative in his political views, was a progressive on church matters, firmly in favour of the Vatican II church reforms. A watershed came in 1968, when The Tablet took an editorial stance at odds with Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae, which restated the traditional teaching against artificial contraception. Burns was followed by the BBC producer John Wilkins, who had been Burns's assistant from 1967 to 1971. Under his editorship the journal's political stance was seen as centre-left. The paper continued to have a distinctive voice, consistently advocating further changes in the church's post-Vatican II life and doctrine. Circulation climbed steadily throughout Wilkins's 21-year tenure. He retired at the end of 2003. Catherine Pepinster, formerly executive editor of The Independent on Sunday, became the first female editor of The Tablet in 2004.[8] She said that "the journal will continue to provide a forum for 'progressive, but responsible Catholic thinking, a place where orthodoxy is at home but ideas are welcome'."[4] In 2012 ITV journalist Julie Etchingham became the review's first guest editor, leading a special issue on the CAFOD charity.[9]

Contributors to The Tablet have included Popes Benedict XVI and Paul VI (while cardinals), the novelists Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, Mark Lawson, Francine Stock, Peter Hennessy, Henry Wansbrough and Bernard Green.[4]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "UK magazines lose print sales by average of 6.3 per cent — full ABC breakdown for all 503 titles". Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  2. ^ Bell, Matthew (12 September 2010). "'There's nothing weird about being a Catholic and a liberal', says 'Tablet' editor". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Thanksgiving service for The Tablet's 175th birthday". BBC News. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "About us", The Tablet website, archived at 11 November 2013
  5. ^ Miranda, Salvador. "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Vaughan, Herbert". Florida International University Libraries. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Charity Commission. The Tablet Trust, registered charity no. 271537. 
  7. ^ Gilley, Sheridan (2012). "The Making and Unmaking of the English Catholic Intellectual Community, 1910-1950". Cercles (Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone). ISSN 1292-8968. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  8. ^ The Independent, March 20, 2006. Archived April 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "CAFOD's 50th Anniversary: Special Edition of The Tablet". CAFOD. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 

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