Thomas J. Reese

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Thomas J. Reese SJ (born 1945) is an American Catholic Jesuit priest, author, and journalist. He is a senior analyst at Religion News Service, a former columnist at National Catholic Reporter, and a former editor-in-chief of the weekly Catholic magazine America.

Life and works[edit]

Reese entered the Society of Jesus in 1962 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1974. He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science from University of California, Berkeley. He was an associate editor of America from 1978 to 1985, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center from 1985 to 1998, and editor-in-chief at America from 1998 to 2005. He resigned from America in 2005 and spent a sabbatical year at Santa Clara University, where he continues to contribute during the summers as a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.[1]

Reese resigned after seven years as the editor of America due to pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vatican.[2][3] Over a period of five years, the congregation objected to various editorial decisions made by Reese concerning certain issues addressed in the magazine, including the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS, religious pluralism, a lack of due process by CDF, homosexual priests, and Communion for pro-choice Catholic politicians. [2]

On Reese's resignation, widespread media carried statements of regret that a voice from the loyal opposition to some current Church policy was leaving in silence.[4]

In 2006 he returned as a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C. Reese wrote for the National Catholic Reporter from 2013 to 2017, and was senior analyst there.[5] In 2017, he became senior analyst at Religion News Service. He was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2014 and in 2016 was elected chair of the commission.[6] His term as commissioner expired at the end of May 2018.

He drew criticism for his remarks that the Church should abandon efforts to make abortion illegal, focusing on reducing the number of abortions. Cardinal Timothy Dolan stated that “As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I want to indicate my serious reservations about Reese’s strategy, considering it a capitulation to the abortion culture, and a grave weakening of the powerful pro-life witness."[7]



  • The Politics of Taxation. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.
  • Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Episcopal Conferences: Historical, Canonical, and Theological Studies (editor), Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1989.
  • The Universal Catechism Reader (editor), San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990.
  • A Flock of Shepherds: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kansas City, MO.: Sheed & Ward, 1992.
  • Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University, 1996.
    In Het Vaticaan: De Organisatie van de Macht in de Katholieke Kerk, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, 1998.
    Im Inneren des Vatikan: Politik und Organisation der katholischen Kirche, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1998.
    O Vaticano por dentro: A Política e a Organização da Igreja Católica, Bauru, Brasil: Editora da Universidade do Sagrado Coração, 1999.
    No Interior do Vaticano: A Política e Organização da Igreja Católica, Portugal: Publicações Europa-América, Lda., 1998.
  • NCR eBook, Caring for Our Common Home: A Readers’ Guide and Commentary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment (2015).[5]


  • Communication II: Decision-Making Examined, Jesuit Self-Study California/Oregon Provinces, 1969.
  • The Generation Gap, Jesuit Self-Study California/Oregon Provinces, 1971.
  • 95th Congress Rated on Tax Reform, Arlington, VA: Taxation with Representation, 1978.
  • Co-Discipleship in Action: Bishops and Laity in Dialogue, Woodstock Theological Center, 1991.

Articles and Columns[edit]


  1. ^ "Thomas Reese, S.J. - Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Summers". Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Santa Clara University. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Roberts & Allen, NCR, 2005
  3. ^ James Martin, Drew Christiansen, SJ Completes His Mission, America, September 28, 2012
  4. ^ Cavalli, Dimitri (January–February 2006). "Touchstone Archives: A Tale of Two Jesuits". Touchstone. 19 (1). Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Thomas Reese, Presentation at NCR
  6. ^ "Jesuit Father Thomas Reese Appointed Chair of U.S. International Religious Freedom Commission". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  7. ^ Cardinal Dolan: Let's not capitulate to the abortion culture, Catholic News Agency, 11 June 2018