By George P. Matysek Jr.
Oct. 29 marks a major transition for Catholic journalism in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
After a combined 160 years publishing as a newspaper – first as The Catholic Mirror, then as the Baltimore Catholic Review and then finally the Catholic Review – Baltimore’s Catholic newspaper will transition to a monthly magazine format in December while continuing to report daily breaking news on CatholicReview.org.
The Catholic Mirror covered historic meetings of U.S. bishops in Baltimore in the 19th century that shaped the future of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The Catholic Review has reported on everything from two World Wars and the pontificates of 10 popes, to local parish events. It has been recognized by the Catholic and secular press as one of the mosthonored newspapers in the country, winning countless journalism awards.
We look back at some of the key moments in our history.
1850 – The Catholic Mirror begins publishing.
1861 – After the election of President Abraham Lincoln, The Catholic Mirror’s editors assert they would rather see the union dissolved than have the president “destroy what we believe to be Southern States’ Rights”
1863 – Michael J. Kelly and John B. Piet, publishers of The Catholic Mirror, are arrested for printing works of a “treasonable character”
1864 – Kelly and Piet are arrested for selling a pamphlet critical of political arrests. They are imprisoned at Fort McHenry
1865 – After the assassination of Lincoln, The Catholic Mirror takes a conciliatory tone. It publishes an article called “Magnamity” pleading for tolerance in the way victorious North would treat the South.
1870s-1890s – The Catholic Mirror advocates religious tolerance as immigration soars. The Mirror defends against nativism and calls for support of Catholic missions to African-Americans and American Indians
1908 – The Catholic Mirror ceases publication.
1913 – The Baltimore Catholic Review begins publishing with more clerical oversight; cost per issue is 2 cents.
1914 – The Catholic Review attacks a proposed law to allow unscheduled inspection of convents, calls the law’s proponents “moral polecats” and “addle-headed bigots”
1920s – The Catholic Review devotes numerous articles and editorials to opposing the bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan. It also fights Prohibition
1934 – Upset when a Sun correspondent, writing in a June 18, 1934, article, compared the zeal of Adolf Hitler to that of St. Ignatius Loyola, Archbishop Michael Curley demanded an apology. When none came, numerous articles and editorials appeared in the Catholic Review, denouncing The Sun and charging it with a 12-year history of offending Catholics. The Sun was reported to have lost 50,000 subscribers in the flap, while increases in Catholic Review subscriptions caused the paper to publish twice weekly for a time. Archbishop Curley and the Catholic Review were eventually satisfied with a qualified apology negotiated in part by The Sun’s H.L. Mencken and Auxiliary Bishop John M. McNamara.
1936 – “Baltimore” is removed from the newspaper’s name. It was inserted again briefly in 1965 before being removed.
1948 – The Catholic Review begins publishing papal encyclicals, more than a decade before most other Catholic papers began the practice
1950s – The Catholic Review publishes anti-Communist articles with headlines such as “Communists are slick in deceiving youth.” The newspaper is a strong supporter of Maryland State Board of Motion Picture Censors; leads charge against obscene movies.
James B. Meehan, a student of St. Ursula School, sells a subscription to The Catholic Review in 1956. Catholic school students earned prized for selling subscription. (CR file)
1966 – The newspaper publishes “open letter” to George P. Mahoney, a Catholic candidate for governor who courted the anti-integration vote; says the election of Mahoney “would mean a victory for forces which are hostile to everything honorable which being Catholic, American, Democrat and Irish should mean.”
Thomas Lorsung, a former reporter and photographer, conducts an interview in the 1960s. (CR file)
1970s – The Catholic Review reports on implementation of liturgical reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council
1980s – The Catholic Review reports from Central America on social justice concerns and American policies
1995 – The Catholic Review publishes extensive coverage of the visit of St. John Paul II to Baltimore
1997 – CatholicReview.org is launched.
2001 – With the help of numerous articles and editorials from the Catholic Review pushing for passage of a program providing funding for nonreligious textbooks and technology in nonpublic schools, Maryland Legislature passes the initiative
2002 – Catholic Review relocates from the Catholic Center to its own building at 880 Park Avenue.
2009 – The Catholic Review enters the realm of social media, launching Twitter and Facebook pages
2013 – The Catholic Review is named newspaper of the year by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association
2014 – The Catholic Review publishes an award-winning special edition covering the 225th anniversary of the founding of the Archdiocese of Baltimore
2015 – The Catholic Review switches to a monthly magazine format.