Does America Need a Catholic Politics?

In a nation sharply divided along ideological lines, the depth and complexity of Catholic social teaching still offers a constant challenge to our partisan categories. Is the fuller application of Catholic ideas to our political debates a potential cure for polarization, as Matthew Walther argued in a provocative essay for The New York Times this summer? Walther, the editor of The Lamp magazine, joins New York Times columnist and IHE Media Fellow Ross Douthat and former Commonweal editor Paul Baumann for a conversation about what the universal church might have to offer the American republic.




Ross Douthat is a Media Fellow at the Institute for Human Ecology. He joined The New York Times as an Op-Ed Columnist in 2009. Previously, he was a Senior Editor at The Atlantic and Blogger for He is the author of To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (Simon and Schuster, 2018), Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Simon and Schuster, 2012), and Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (Hyperion, 2005). He is the co-author, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (Doubleday, 2008). Mr. Douthat is also the Film Critic for National Review.



Matthew Walther is editor of The Lamp magazine and a former national correspondent of The Week. His writing on faith, literature, and politics has also appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.


Paul Baumann was editor of Commonweal from 2003-2018. He is now the magazine’s senior writer. Baumann was educated at Wesleyan University and Yale Divinity School. He has written for The New York TimesThe Washington Post, the Washington MonthlyThe NationFirst Things, and National Review. With Patrick Jordan, he is the editor of Commonweal Confronts the Century: Liberal Convictions, Catholic Tradition–Celebrating Seventy-Five Years from the Pages of Commonweal (Touchstone). He lives in Fairfield, Conn.