This article was first published on November 12, 1924.
The question will naturally arise why the editors of The Commonweal believe there is room for another journal to discuss public affairs, to review the important publications of the day, and produce original fiction, essays, and poetry. Do they hope to find place for The Commonweal through competition with the weekly reviews that already occupy the field? To such questions we reply:
We believe that The Commonweal will be so fundamentally different to our contemporaries that in place of competition in an over-crowded field we shall occupy a position that hitherto has been left vacant. For the difference between The Commonweal and other weekly literary reviews designed for general circulation is that The Commonweal will be definitely Christian in its presentation of orthodox religious principles and their application to the subjects that fall within its purview: principles which until now have not, we believe, been expressed in American journalism except through the medium of the official organs of the Catholic Church and of the various denominations. As a sure background The Commonweal will have the continuous, unbroken tradition and teachings of the historic Mother Church.
But it will be in no sense—nor could it possibly assert itself to be—an authoritative or authorized mouth piece of the Catholic Church. It will be the independent, personal product of its editors and contributors, who, for the most part, will be laymen. Its pages will be open to writers holding different forms of Catholic belief, and in some cases to authors who do not profess any form of Christian faith. Where the opinion of its editors, contributors, and readers differs on subjects yet unsettled by competent authority, it will be an open forum for the discussion of such differences in a spirit of good temper.
In presenting the first number of The Commonweal to its readers, or it may be more exact to say, to those whom we would have as readers, the editors realize that it is not by what they may say about their intentions so much as by the way their intentions are realized that the new journal will be judged. Therefore, they ask that the judgment upon their work be not exclusively based upon any one issue of The Commonweal. A new journal cannot convey its character through any single number any more than a new acquaintance can establish claims to one's friendship at a first meeting. Nevertheless, the proper ceremonial usages call for a brief introduction of The Commonweal on the part of its sponsors.
There is being promulgated a widely accepted theory of what civilization is, or what it should be, which, if it proves successful means the end of Christendom, so far as the expression or influence of Christian principles and ideas in the institutions of civilized life are concerned. It is unquestionably a spiritual, moral, and patriotic duty for thinking people at least to make an effort to apply the conserving and regenerative forces of the fountain head of Christian tradition, experience and culture to the problems that today all men of good will are seeking to solve. As opposed to the present confused, confusing, and conflicting complex of private opinons, and personal impressionism, mirrored in so many influential journals, the editors of The Commonweal believe that nothing can do so much for the betterment, the happiness, and the peace of the American people as the influence of the enduring and tested principles of Catholic Christianity. To that high task The Commonweal is dedicated.
The Commonweal November 12, 1924