At the Frontiers

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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 1 month ago
You say you are opposed to attacks against the unborn, but you still have not written an editorial criticizing President Obama's horrendous attacks against unborn children. Is this what the Democratic Party told you to say?
9 years 1 month ago
You say you are opposed to attacks against the unborn, but you still have not written an editorial criticizing President Obama's horrendous attacks against unborn children. Is this what the Democratic Party told you to say?
9 years 1 month ago
As an 80 year old Catholic woman, my childhood was formed by the 'great'depression. My teen age years were World War Two. Looking back I consider them both to be very valuable learning experiences that gave me the tools to live successfully in the world of the second half of the 20th century. During those years I found myself challenged to choose between Atheistic Communism and 'Christian' Capitalism. Events of this past several months have led me to conclude that not much was Christian in our Nation's form of capitalism. I feel that Christian ethics could provide an honest and equitable capitalistic society. If only that had been the case.
9 years 1 month ago
I am somewhat confused by the quote from Thomas Gilby "Civilization is formed by men (sic)locked together in argument." Since this is a quote, Gilby must have included the parenthetical qualifier (sic) in his original. Therefore he must be telling the reader that he knows that he could have used the word people, but purposely chose the word men. Without the qualifier, I would have understood the standard gender inclusive meanining of the word "men." As written though, I read it to say that civilation is a males only endeaver. So I am left to wonder if Gilby was anti-woman, or if the editors of America are rewriting his words in a confusing adjustment to the English language that does nothing to unify humanity. I suspect it is the latter, and thus politically inspired sectarianism that threatens to divide the Church.
Elaine Tannesen
9 years 1 month ago
Congratulations! One hundred years of publication is a remarkable achievement. I would like to take this occasion to thank America Magazine for the magnificent banquet of mind, heart, and soul that has been offered for these many years. My mother, who passed away at age 92, subscribed during my childhood and enjoyed this publication until she could read no longer. She sent it to me during college days and saved me bundles of copies to peruse when I returned home from living abroad. Although the print version has its own attractive qualities, I have especially enjoyed accessing America on line from wherever I may be living. This Centennial Publication contains a treasure trove of articles, some by my favorite authors, food for the soul, for the long journey. Elizabeth Johnson’s writings never fail to surprise, delight, and call us to God. Her eloquence and graciousness of expression are embedded in her gifts. Timothy Radcliff’s article excites us to the positive possibilities for our church during a time when judgmental fundamentalism appears to be on the rise. He presents a big, big picture and encourages us to a profoundly hopeful view of the future. Helen Prejean’s passionate and personal article on vocation would be an inspiration at any point in one’s life. John Kavanaugh’s provocative and timely article on outrage brought about its usual storm of comments. The comments themselves, to this and many other articles, provide a much needed forum for exposure to opposing viewpoints and acquisition of additional information. I especially appreciate this opportunity. Although not in this addition, the poems published in America Magazine speak to another deeply radiant part of our souls that cries to be nourished. It was with special pleasure that I read that your poetry editor's favorite anthologies were on my shelves at home. All of these words wing their ways into our hearts and open the doors over and over again to God’s grand invitation to come to Him. Thank you one hundred times.


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