Congratulations to our friends and (friendly) rivals, the editors and staff at Commonweal magazine, which celebrates 85 years of distinguished service to the church and the People of God this week. Their anniversary issue is a typically rich one, with articles by and interviews with John Wilkins, Peter and Peggy Steinfels, Paul Baumann, Cathleen Kaveny, Richard Alleva and Sidney Callahan, among others. From their website is this impressive summary of accomplishments:
Commonweal was credited with helping prepare American Catholics for Vatican II and its aftermath, and for introducing readers to a new level of literate Catholic discussion. It has published such authors as Nicholas Berdyaev, Emmanuel Mounier, François Mauriac, Georges Bernanos, Hannah Arendt, Luigi Sturzo, G.K Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Graham Greene. It has printed the short fiction of Evelyn Waugh and J.F. Powers, the poetry of W.H. Auden, Josephine Jacobsen, Theodore Roethke, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Lowell, Marie Ponsot, and John Updike. Its cultural commentators have included Walter Kerr, Wilfrid Sheed, John Simon, David Denby, and Arlene Croce; there have been illustrations by Jean Charlot, Rita Corbin, Fritz Eichenberg, and Emil Antonucci.
The magazine has an ongoing interest in social-justice issues (John A. Ryan, Dorothy Day, George G. Higgins, A.J. Muste, Michael Harrington), ecumenism (Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Marty, Thomas Hopko, George Lindbeck, Marc Tannenbaum), just-war teaching (J. Bryan Hehir, Thomas Merton, Paul Ramsey), the renewal of the Roman liturgy (Virgil Michel, Robert Hovda, Mark Searle, Rembert Weakland), women’s issues (Mary Daly, Abigail McCarthy, Sidney Callahan, Elizabeth Johnson), the primacy of conscience (John T. Noonan, Bernard Häring, Charles Curran), and the interchange between Catholicism and liberal democracy (Jacques Maritain, Eugene McCarthy, Peter Steinfels). It has taken well-reasoned positions against abortion-on-demand, cloning, and physician-assisted suicide; against the centralization of church power during the papacy of John Paul II; and against the failures of the American church in the clergy sexual-abuse scandal.
Commonweal is consistently good and consistently keeps us (and the church) on our toes.
Ad multos annos!
James Martin, SJ