Thomas Baker

Thomas Baker is the publisher of Commonweal

By this author

Commonweal's Saturday Panel on the Synod: Come in Person, or Watch at Home

Commonweal is hosting a panel discussion this coming Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM in New York: "Fortress or Field Hospital? The Synod Takes on the Family." It's moderated by editor at large Mollie Wilson O'Reilly, and we're welcoming a stellar lineup of panelists:

The Road to Character

“Character,” like “leadership” and “values,” is one of those virtuous-sounding, malleable words that frequently end up in places like prep school mission statements, where being more specific might be too threatening for everyone concerned. David Brooks, however, thinks character is the very word that describes what’s missing in our garish, self-centered society.


Canon law requires that any previous marriage (with the exception of a marriage ended by the death of a spouse) must be annulled by the church if one of the parties from that marriage wishes to marry validly again. This requirement for annulment even applies to marriages that were completely secular in nature, and marriages involving parties who, at the time of the marriage, were not Catholic.

Divorce and Remarriage

In general, Catholics experience a slightly lower than average divorce rate compared with the general population of married people.

Catholics, Intermarriage, and Validity

While most Catholics marry other Catholics, they may celebrate a valid sacramental Catholic marriage with a baptized Christian of any denomination, although doing so requires obtaining relatively routine permission from a local bishop. Catholics may also seek permission to marry an unbaptized person, although even when this permission is granted, the marriage is considered nonsacramental, although still recognized by the church as a valid Catholic marriage.

The Decline of Catholic Marriages

The number of Catholic marriages taking place in the United States has declined by almost two-thirds (64 percent) since 1969, even as the number of Catholics in the U.S. has grown significantly. In 2013, 154,450 Catholic marriages were celebrated in the U.S., compared with 426,309 in 1969.

Greetings from the L.A. Congress

Greetings from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, which, like the Los Angeles Angels, is actually in Anaheim, CA. Commonweal has a booth (#711) in the vast and enjoyably chaotic exhibit hall, so if you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in to say hi to your friends on the staff, happily recovering from a miserable New York winter here in the 90-degree California heat.

More 2014 Books: Parables, Homilies, Prayers, Maigret

Just to add to dotCommonweal’s recent end-of-year book recommendations, here are four 2014 favorites I’m giving to friends for Christmas.

Our Website Open House Starts Right Now

For the next two months (through November 12), access to the Commonweal website is totally free for all registered readers. It's one of the many ways we're celebrating our 90th Anniversary this fall.

Commonweal's Tablet App Now Free to Print Subscribers

About a year ago, we launched an extremely handsome Commonweal app for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets, and our goal all along was to make it an integral part of a Commonweal subscription. As of this week, it has finally happened: If you are a Commonweal print subscriber, you can now also read Commonweal using the app, free.