Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese's column for Religion News Service, Signs of the Times, appears regularly in National Catholic Reporter.

Father Reese entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained in 1974. He was educated at St. Louis University, the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and at the University of California Berkeley, where he received a Ph.D. in political science. He worked in Washington as a writer and lobbyist for tax reform from 1975 to 1978. He was an associate editor of America magazine, where he wrote on politics, economics and the Catholic Church, from 1978 to 1985 and editor-in-chief from 1998 to 2005. He was a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center from 1985 to 1998 and 2006 to 2013. During the summers, he works as a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. 

While at Woodstock, he wrote the trilogy on the organization and politics of the church: Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church (1989), A Flock of Shepherds: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (1992), and Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church (1996). He also edited The Universal Catechism Reader (1990), an analysis of the first draft of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Episcopal Conferences: Historical, Canonical and Theological Studies (1989). He is also author of a NCR e-book, Caring for Our Common Home: A Readers’ Guide and Commentary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment (2015).

In 2014, Father Reese was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission that reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. He was reappointed to another two-year term in May 2016, and he was elected to a one-year term as chair of the commission in June 2016. His writings for NCR do not necessarily reflect the views of the commission.

Father Reese was senior analyst for the NCR from March 2013 to June 2017. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Show full bio ↓
Column

Pope to gay priests: Be celibate or get out

Nothing gets the pope on the front page of newspapers faster than saying something about homosexuality. This was evident when reports of a book-length interview with Pope Francis focused on what he had to say about gay priests.

Column

It's time for a grand compromise on religious freedom and contraceptives

Now is the time for the proponents of religious liberty to offer to negotiate a grand compromise with those who promote women’s rights.

Column

Note to newspaper editors: Change 'church' to 'hierarchy'

The word "church" has multiple meanings. One theologian counted more than a dozen different ways "church" was used in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, referring to everything from a building to the Mystical Body of Christ.

Column

Bishops continue to define response to sex abuse despite Vatican call for delay

Signs of the Times: The U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore, felt their house was burning down, and the Vatican was asking them to delay turning on the fire hoses.

Pages