Commonweal in the 1960s

From Our Archives

Priestly celibacy, the necessity of religious dress for nuns, liturgical renewal, Catholicism's response to race and civil rights: These, in addition of course to birth control, were some of the issues Commonweal covered in the 1960s, during which its editorial stance can be said to have been exemplified by the editors' call for reform to "become a fact instead of an unobserved catchword." 

As we continue to mark our ninetieth year in publication, here we focus on Commonweal in the 1960s.

The 1960s, Part 1

Bernard Häring writes on the unprecedented "earthquake in the Church" caused by the release of Humanae Vitae; Thomas Merton weighs the "possibility" and "probability" of the destruction of the human race by nuclear weapons; Gertrud Heinzelmann looks at the call of women to the full pastoral office in Evangelical-Reformed and Protestant churches in Western Europe; and Michael Harrington writes on the meanings of "America" in his review of Robert Frank's "brilliant collection of photographs, The Americans."

The Encyclical Crisis

Contradiction can and must be a service of love for the Pope No papal teaching document has ever caused such an earthquake in the Church as the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Reactions around the world—in the Italian and American press, for example...

The Priesthood and Women

The call of women to the full pastoral office in many Evangelical-Reformed and Protestant churches in Western Europe is an irreversible fact in the history of religion. The idea prevalent for centuries among all Christian denominations was that the...

Nuclear War and Christian Responsbility

It is no exaggeration to say that our times are Apocalyptic, in the sense that we seem to have come to a point at which all the hidden, mysterious dynamism of the "history of salvation" revealed in the Bible has flowered  into final...
'Chasing Light' Robert Frank

The Other America

At twenty, most of us have painfully learned that stereotypes are a way of lying, of expressing the sprawl of reality, the contradictions of experience. By thirty, we discover the other side of the coin: that the stereotype is a way of saying a half...
The 1960s, Part 2

Commonweal's editors write on attending the "liturgical ceremony" of a draft-card burning in New York's Union Square in 1965; Daniel and Phillip Berrigan contribute dispatches from Selma, Alabama, and the Baltimore City Jail; William F. Buckley and William Clancy debate being Catholic in the modern world; and Linda Kuehl speaks with Joyce Carol Oates, just after the release of her novel Them.

Selma and Sharpeville | Stereotypes of Brutal Power

One had the sense, rightly or not, of having landed here before. It was not merely the red ground underfoot, swirling in the hot wind, kicking up a red cloud around cattle and men and cars. Nor the earth coming to life again, after winter in July,...

Musings from Baltimore City Jail

"They're killin' us with kindness." Obviously they were. True, we encountered signs of contempt and fury at what we had done—draft board personnel flinging back at us the New Testament given them following our action, a...

The Catholic in the Modern View | Conservative vs. Liberal

EDITORS' NOTE: The merits of conservative and liberal approaches to the modern world were debated early this year by William F. Buckley, Jr., editor of the National Review, and William Clancy, formerly one of the editors of The Commonweal and...

Burning Draft Cards

Seldom does there occur a liturgical ceremony more impressive than the draft-card burning which took place in Manhattan's Union Square November 6. Through the opening poems chanted by the only bearded speaker of the day, through the homilies...

An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates, at 31, had begotten four novels, Them, Expensive People, A Garden of Earthly Delights, With Shuddering Fall, two volumes of short stories, Upon the Sweeping Flood, By the North Gate. Numerous other stories of hers have appeared in...
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