As we celebrate America‘s 100 years of publication, we praise God for inspiring and sustaining this ministry for so long. We also recall with appreciation our distinguished predecessors and give thanks to you, our readers and benefactors, for your continuing encouragement and support. Great anniversaries also invite us to dream about the future. Part of our dream is that all those who walk the frontier where the church meets the world—the frontier where Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Jesuits to minister—will frequent our pages.
We dream, too, that even more than in the past, America, like Catholic colleges and universities, will be a place where the church will do its thinking in open dialogue, free of fear. For as the great Dominican Thomas Gilby wrote, “Civilization is formed by men [sic] locked together in argument.” Moreover, at a time when polarization and recrimination threaten to drive reason and humanity from the public square and politically inspired sectarianism threatens to divide the church, we envision America as a forum where serious thought will count and truth and charity will prevail.
We also seek to foster a dialogue that is truly catholic in its scope, inviting American Catholics and our fellow citizens to share in a global conversation that extends to every continent; and we hope to encourage today’s faithful to encounter the Great Catholic Tradition that reaches back beyond the last pontificate, beyond the First Vatican Council and the Council of Trent, to draw from treasures found in both East and West. Finally, we want to make America a place where those who regard themselves as “spiritual but not religious” will discover the vitality of a community of faith that follows Christ in the world.
At a time when journalism in the United States is in turmoil, America is blessed with faithful and generous readers who enable us to look ahead with confidence to expanding our services, especially online, to fit the changing profile of the new American church. As local church leadership falls more and more to laypeople and lay ecclesial movements to satisfy the spiritual hunger of Americans, we will strive to be a valued resource for them and those they serve. In addition, as the number of Spanish-speaking Catholics swells, we hope to present some of our services in Spanish.
Inspired by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, we believe meeting the needs of the poor, the oppressed, the unborn and children, migrants and refugees should be a paramount public responsibility. As the council wrote, “In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of absolutely every person, and of actively helping him” (“Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” No. 27). With the church, we remain committed to confront “whatever is opposed to human life”—not only “murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia” and torture, but also “subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment,” ethnic cleansing, human trafficking and unjust working conditions.
During its first 100 years, America witnessed the most violent century in human history, culminating in a worldwide race to harness the deadly power of the atom. In a new century, when humankind’s destructive power is nearly absolute, America joins with the church and people of good will throughout the world in renewing the quest for peace. As Pope Paul VI reminded us, true peace requires justice. Along with the practitioners in the field, we will explore how to pursue justice without violence, mindful of the place of peacemakers in the kingdom of God.
When Communism collapsed in 1989, no one anticipated that within 20 years Wall Street as we knew it would also have vanished. The economic model that the United States, and then the world, followed during the last 30 years has failed; the assumptions that undergird it are a shambles. To be renewed, the global economy needs more than emergency funding and better regulation. It will require imagination, innovation and, above all, sound values. We promise America will be one of the places where that re-imagining and ethical vision will be found.
In the real economy that makes things and provides services, a great transformation is already under way. Detroit is going green. Information technologies, biotechnology and renewable energy have already ushered in a new material culture. As we celebrate Easter, a feast of our new life in glory, we believe that the 21st century will be a time of transformation in the intellectual and spiritual life as well. The signs of renewal, like blossoms in spring, are manifold. We promise to report our sightings to you. And confident that God’s creative Word is active among us, America will humbly endeavor with your words and ours, online and in print, to help bring to birth this transformed world.