The sun sets over the dome St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Christmas tree before it is lighted in St. Peter’s Square (CNS photo/Lola Gomez).

This week, as we near the conclusion of an eventful year, we’re highlighting ten stories Commonweal published in 2023 that most immediately resonated with readers and, in our estimation, best represented our coverage of religion, politics, and arts and culture. 

Throughout the year, Austen Ivereigh and Massimo Faggioli delivered exceptional analysis of the Synod on Synodality and Pope Francis’s papacy, as well as the politics surrounding them. Two stories exemplify their work. In January, following the passing of Benedict XVI and the unexpected death of Cardinal George Pell, Ivereigh wrote about a group of conservatives who, “smelling the end of the Francis era,” are determined to secure its reversal. While Faggioli, who wrote the obituary for Benedict at the turn of the year, examined the ongoing synodal process as the most important moment in the life of the Catholic Church since Vatican II and the most important moment about Vatican II, “because it’s happening just as hard-to-ignore rifts over the council are emerging in global Catholicism.”   

Similarly, four stories in particular helped us make sense of the political and cultural currents that will surely continue to shape the year ahead. George Scialabba wrestled with the intolerable inequalities we take for granted. Meghan Sullivan interrogated “effective altruism” and what advocates of the movement get wrong. Associate editor Regina Munch, in her persuasive argument against consolidation, examined how bad public policy has reduced citizens into consumers. And, in a film review that stood out among Commonweal’s exceptional arts and culture coverage this year. Santiago Ramos considered the existentialism of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie buried under the pink of Barbies “fluorescent bacchanal.”

Readers engaged with these stories in impressive numbers, sharing them widely and, on occasion, sharing what they thought of them with editors. The most-read story, however, was a fascinating profile of a hospice doctor who studies the end-of-life experiences of his patients by longtime contributor Paul Lauritzen. Like many of the other stories Commonweal published this year, whether they appear on the list below or not, Lauritzen’s essay grabbed the attention of readers upon publication and continued to resonate with them throughout the year. 

Without further ado, here are the top stories Commonweal published in 2023, listed in chronological order.

“The Anti-Francis Gatekeepers” by Austen Ivereigh
“What Were We Thinking?” by George Scialabba
“The Limits of ‘Longtermism’” by Meghan Sullivan
“Catholicism’s Shrinking Horizons” by Massimo Faggioli
“The Grace of Wholeheartedness” by Zena Hitz
“End of Life Dreams” by Paul Lauritzen
“The Case Against Consolidation” by Regina Munch
“The Civil Theology of Robert Bellah” by Matthew Rose
“Barbie the Existentialist” by Santiago Ramos
“Stuck in Ourselves” by Alexander Stern

Also by this author

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.