|Frequency||20 issues a year|
|Based in||New York City|
Commonweal is a liberal[a] American Catholic journal of opinion, edited and managed by lay Catholics, headquartered in The Interchurch Center in New York City. It is the oldest independent Roman Catholic journal of opinion in the United States.
Founded in 1924 by Michael Williams (1877-1950) and the Calvert Associates, Commonweal is the oldest independent Roman Catholic journal of opinion in the United States. The magazine was originally modeled on The New Republic and The Nation but "expressive of the Catholic note" in covering literature, the arts, religion, society, and politics.
Commonweal has published the writing of François Mauriac, Georges Bernanos, Hannah Arendt, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Jacques Maritain, Dorothy Day, Robert Bellah, Graham Greene, Emmanuel Mounier, Conor Cruise O'Brien, Thomas Merton, Wilfrid Sheed, Paul Ramsey, Joseph Bernardin, Abigail McCarthy, Christopher Lasch, Walter Kerr, Marilynne Robinson, Luke Timothy Johnson, Terry Eagleton, Elizabeth Johnson, and Andrew Bacevich. It has printed the short fiction of Evelyn Waugh, J. F. Powers, Alice McDermott, and Valerie Sayers; the poetry of W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, John Updike, Les Murray, John Berryman, and Marie Ponsot; and the artwork of Jean Charlot, Rita Corbin, Fritz Eichenberg, and Emil Antonucci.
The journal, tagged as "A Review of Religion, Politics, and Culture", is run as a not-for-profit enterprise and managed by an eighteen-member board of directors. The word "commonweal" is a reference to an important term in the political philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, who argued that legitimate leaders must prioritize the "common good" of the "commonweal" in making political decisions.
Commonweal publishes editorials, columns, essays, and poetry, along with film, book, and theater reviews. Twenty issues of Commonweal are released each year, with a circulation of approximately 20,000. In 1951, Commonweal was hit by financial troubles and almost shut down because of a loss in subscribers.
Although Commonweal maintains a relatively strong focus on issues of specific interest to liberal Catholics, this focus is not exclusionary. A broad range of issues--religious, political, social, and cultural--are examined independent of any relationship to Catholicism and the church. Commonweal has attracted contributors from all points of the mainstream political spectrum in the United States.
As of 2019, Commonweal staff includes:
Previous editors of Commonweal have been Michael Williams (1924-38); Edward S. Skillin (1938-67); James O'Gara (1967-84); Peter Steinfels (1984-88); Margaret O'Brien Steinfels (1988-2002); Paul Baumann (2002-2018).