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 received 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. Over a period of five years beginning at the turn of the millennium, Reese adopted various stances at odds with official Catholic teaching on matters such as homosexuality, priestly celibacy, birth control, and the abortion debate.

He resigned from America in 2005.[1] The National Catholic Reporter claimed that Reese's resignation was forced by the Vatican,[1] although America and the Society of Jesus in Rome denied this.[2] He subsequently 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] His term as commissioner expired at the end of May 2018.


In 2018, he argued that the anti-abortion movement should support birth control as a "lesser of two evils" in reducing the number of abortions.[6] He also argued that Humanae vitae was a 'mistake' since a majority of American Catholics ignore it, and that forbidding contraception was 'an insult to all the good people who have used contraceptives at some point in their lives'.[7] Cardinal Timothy Dolan expressed his "serious reservations" to Reese's proposed strategy, "considering it a capitulation to the abortion culture, and a grave weakening of the powerful pro-life witness."[8]

In a 2021 editorial, Reese outlined several liturgical reforms he would like to see, and criticized the Tridentine Mass as well as Pope Benedict's 2007 document Summorum Pontificum which gave priest the option to celebrate the Latin Mass without their bishop's permission. Reese said that he would like bishops to ban the use of the Tridentine Mass in their diocese and prevent young people from attending it.[9] The article drew strong backlash from Traditionalist Catholics, who said that Reese was being hypocritical and encouraging authoritarianism to deal with people he disagrees with.[10][11]



  • 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).[4]


  • 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. ^ a b Tom Roberts and John L. Allen, Jr., "Editor of Jesuits' America magazine forced to resign under Vatican pressure, National Catholic Reporter, May 6, 2005
  2. ^ "Signs of the Times". America. May 23, 2005. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  3. ^ "Thomas Reese, S.J. - Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Summers". Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Santa Clara University. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Thomas Reese, Presentation at NCR
  5. ^ "Jesuit Father Thomas Reese Appointed Chair of U.S. International Religious Freedom Commission". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  6. ^ "Irish vote shows need for new pro-life strategy". Religion News Service. 2018-05-27. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  7. ^ "Humanae Vitae: Sex and authority in the Catholic Church". National Catholic Reporter. 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  8. ^ Cardinal Dolan: Let's not capitulate to the abortion culture, Catholic News Agency, 11 June 2018
  9. ^ Reese, Thomas (April 13, 2021). "The future of Catholic liturgical reform". Religion News Service. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Stannus, Jane (April 16, 2021). "Fr. Reese and the Dangerous Latin Mass". Crisis magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Salvucci, Claudio (April 14, 2021). "An FSSP Parishioner Responds to Fr. Reese". Retrieved May 7, 2021.

External links[edit]