By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 7, 2005
The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America and one of the nation's foremost commentators on Roman Catholicism, has resigned from the publication after years of tension with the Vatican.
The New York-based weekly announced that its new editor will be the Rev. Drew Christiansen, a fellow Jesuit who was recruited as a writer and editor by Reese in 2002.
The magazine's statement did not give any explanation for Reese's departure, effective June 1. But the National Catholic Reporter, an independent publication, said he resigned at the request of the Jesuit order after five years of pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department formerly headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Since Benedict's election, Jesuit officials concluded that their long-running disagreements with the Vatican over the magazine were "unwinnable," the National Catholic Reporter said.
Reese, 60, declined to comment except to say that he is looking forward to a sabbatical while discussing the next phase of his ministry with his superiors.
During his seven years as editor, the magazine's circulation and visibility rose as it tackled controversial subjects head-on, often by pairing essays on two sides of issues such as gay marriage, condom use to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS and denial of Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.
Reese's editorials often took a left-leaning position. They became particularly sharp during the interregnum after the death of Pope John Paul II, when he called for a new pope who would allow more open debate.