When America was first published on April 17,1909, it replaced a monthly Jesuit periodical. At the time, John Wynne, S.J., the first editor in chief, explained that a monthly publication too quickly fell behind the rapid “march of events,” and that “until such time as a daily may be possible,” a weekly review focused on the intersection of faith and the issues of the day was needed.
Over 100 years later, America now publishes daily—even hourly—in digital form. Father Wynne promised that telegraph and cable would be used when needed to gather news; that same practicality has moved us to the web and shifted our print edition to biweekly publication. On all of our platforms, the mission announced in 1909 continues to inspire us today: to serve as “a bond of union among Catholics and a factor in civic and social life.”
The object, scope and character of this review are sufficiently indicated in its name, and they are further exhibited in the contents of this first number.
America will take the place of the monthly periodical, The Messenger, and continue its mission. It is in reality an adaptation of its precursor to meet the needs of the time. Among these needs are a review and conscientious criticism of the life and literature of the day, a discussion of actual questions and a study of vital problems from the Christian standpoint, a record of religious progress, a defense of sound doctrine, an authoritative statement of the position of the Church in the thought and activity of modern life, a removal of traditional prejudice, a refutation of erroneous news, and a correction of misstatements about beliefs and practices which millions hold dearer than life. These needs, moreover, are too numerous, too frequent and too urgent to be satisfied by a monthly periodical, no matter how vigilant or comprehensive it may be. The march of events is too rapid, and every week has its paramount interests which are lost or forgotten, unless dealt with as soon as they arise.
In the opinion of many, a daily organ would be required to treat these interests adequately. Until such time as a daily may be possible, if really desirable, the weekly review we propose to publish is an imperative need….
There is still more need of a first-class Catholic weekly periodical in this Western Hemisphere, and a wider field of utility for the same than in England, because with us, non-Catholics as a rule are not only more ready to hear our views, but they are also more eager to have us exert our proper influence in the national and social life. When counselling Father Coleridge, at the time he was planning The Month, Cardinal Newman advocated a periodical which would induce Catholics to take an intelligent interest in public affairs and not live as a class apart from their fellows of other beliefs. His counsel applies to Catholics in America even more than it applied in England in his day. We are of a people who respect belief but who value action more. We are going through a period when the most salutary influences of religion are needed to safeguard the very life and liberty and equal rights of the individual, to maintain the home, to foster honesty and sobriety, and to inculcate reverence for authority, and for the most sacred institutions, civil as well as ecclesiastical. We are more responsible than our non-Catholic fellow citizens for the welfare of thousands of immigrants of our own religion who come to us weekly, and for their amalgamation into the national life. We are responsible also for much of the ignorance of religious truth and for the prejudices which still prevail to a great extent, because, satisfied as we are of the security of our own position, we do not take the pains to explain it to others or to dispel their erroneous views.
The object, therefore, of this Review is to meet the needs here described and to supply in one central publication a record of Catholic achievement and a defense of Catholic doctrine, built up by skilful hands in every region of the globe. It will discuss questions of the day affecting religion, morality, science and literature; give information and suggest principles that may help to the solution of the vital problems constantly thrust upon our people. These discussions will not be speculative nor academic, but practical and actual, with the invariable purpose of meeting some immediate need of truth, of creating interest in some social work or movement, of developing sound sentiment and of exercising proper influence on public opinion. The Review will not only chronicle events of the day and the progress of the Church; it will also stimulate effort and originate movements for the betterment of the masses.
The name America embraces both North and South America, in fact, all this Western Hemisphere; the Review will, however, present to its readers all that interests Catholics in any part of the world, especially in Europe...
True to its name and to its character as a Catholic review, America will be cosmopolitan not only in contents but also in spirit. It will aim at becoming a representative exponent of Catholic thought and activity without bias or plea for special persons or parties. Promptness in meeting difficulties will be one of its chief merits, actuality will be another. Its news and correspondence will be fresh, full and accurate. Courtesy will preside over its relations with the press and other expounders of public sentiment. Far from interfering with any of the excellent Catholic newspapers already in existence, America will strive to broaden the scope of Catholic journalism and enable it to exert a wholesome influence on public opinion, and thus become a bond of union among Catholics and a factor in civic and social life.
The task of editing this Review has been undertaken at the earnest solicitation of members of the Hierarchy and of prominent priests and laymen…. It goes without saying that loyalty to the Holy See, and profound respect for the wishes and views of the Catholic Hierarchy, will be the animating principle of this Review. The board of editors consists of men representing various sections of North America. They will be assisted by eminent collaborators and contributors drawn from all ranks of the clergy and from the laity in every part of the world….
Bureaus of information established in the leading cities of Europe, Mexico, Central and South America will supply prompt and correct information concerning Catholic interests. Telegraph and cable will be used when needed, and neither labor nor expense will be spared to make America worthy of its name.