Paul Baumann

Paul Baumann is the editor of Commonweal.

By this author

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

My mother, Carol Marie Linehan, was not a pious woman. She did, of course, instruct us in how to say our prayers, but otherwise I can’t remember her ever uttering the name “Jesus” or mentioning a pope, let alone a bishop. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby seemed to comprise the entirety of her pantheon of Catholic saints, and TV’s The Wonderful World of Walt Disney was as close to religious programming as our family got. Her favorite biblical passage was “God helps those who help themselves,” a proverb I have not been able to find in Scripture.

Take a Left at George Carlin

Theres a story in todays Times about the effort to rename 121st Street between Broadway and Amsterdam after the late comedian George Carlin.

Confusing Images

As he frequently does, Fr. Robert Imbelli had an admiring post last week about something Pope Benedict had recently said. Titled Images of Gratitude, the post linked to Benedicts remarks on the occasion of his being made an honorary citizen of Freising, Germany, where he had attended seminary in the years immediately after World War II. With a few exceptions, most of the comments on Fr.

A Refuge?

An amusing description recently appeared in the Times Literary Supplement regarding what talents and temperament an editor needs. “Rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability,” went the quip.

Yes, Mr. President

“Apologies for the short notice,” began the e-mail I received late in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 30. It was from the assistant press secretary for foreign affairs at the National Security Council, asking if I could meet with President Barack Obama Thursday morning for a “roundtable” in advance of his meeting with the pope in Rome.

Yes, I replied, yes I can. No apology necessary.

The 'Weekly Standard,' Notre Dame & 'Commonweal'

The neoconservative Weekly Standard is best known as former vice president Dick Cheney's favorite humor magazine. And it is funny--truly. Who can forget those satirical pieces warning of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, or the one--written in code!--about demure, heavily mascaraed Iraqi and Al Qaeda secret agents canoodling while passing nuclear secrets over heavy pastry in Vienna? And then there was the wild Monty Python-like script for "democratizing the Middle East at gunpoint." The magazine's limericks are even better.

A Letter to Our Readers

Dear Commonweal Reader,

Obama & Kennedy

President-elect Barack Obama's charisma, intelligence, and youth often caused commentators to compare him to John F. Kennedy. The endorsement of Obama by Caroline Kennedy and Sen. Edward Kennedy cemented the comparison, as did the obvious parallel between what Kennedy's election represented for American Catholics and what Obama's means to African Americans.


Early in October, I appeared at St. Theresa’s Parish in Briarcliff Manor, a leafy New York suburb, along with Commonweal contributor (and former columnist) David Carlin, to discuss the question of whether a Catholic can vote for a prochoice candidate.

Among the Catholic Commentariat

Commonweal is not very high on the media food chain, and I’m not one of the handful of usual suspects the media rely on to comment on papal announcements, demographic alarms (“Where have all the Catholics gone?”), excommunications, or the sexual-abuse scandal. Still, whenever there is some big papal news—a death, conclave, or visit—my phone starts ringing.