Reader's Retrospective: William and Lorraine D'Antonio

This article appears in the Reader's Retrospective feature series. View the full series.

Editor's note: Introducing NCRonline's blog series "Reader's Retrospective": A special project that commemorates NCR's 50th anniversary by telling the stories of readers who have been faithfully subscribing to the National Catholic Reporter since its beginning. ​Read about the project's origins here.​​​​​​


Early NCR subscribers William and Lorraine D'Antonio have been married 65 years, yet they can still recall in detail their "beginning of beginning to be together" when Bill left his galoshes at Lorraine's home after a Christmas cocktail party that she and her friends had hosted.

Bill's connection to the National Catholic Reporter can be traced to his role as a sociology professor at the University of Notre Dame and his participation on the Notre Dame committee that worked closely with the Papal Commission on Birth Control from 1963 to 1966. Bill's article about marriage and family life based on the committee's findings was published in the Catholic Reporter (predecessor to NCR) in 1964.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae rejected the commission's majority recommendation that the church lift its ban on contraception. Bill delivered a public statement rejecting the encyclical and expressing support for Fr. Charles Curran and other theologians who had criticized the document.

After teaching at the University of Connecticut from 1971 to 1982, Bill was executive officer of the American Sociological Association from 1982 to 1991. During these years spent in New Haven, Conn., and Washington D.C. (where the D'Antonios still live), Lorraine also stayed busy both as a mother to their six children and as a manager of three academic organizations related to religion and sociology. In 1980, Bill was invited to join NCR's board.

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In 1987, with funding from NCR, Bill and three other sociologists created the first of five surveys of American Catholics that, in his words, explored "beliefs, attitudes, and practices, including questions about the locus of moral authority on questions of human sexuality."

Now a senior fellow at The Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, Bill remains active as a researcher, activist, author and speaker. Echoing Lorraine's observation that "the research he has done is bearing fruit now," Bill is currently working on a historical study about Catholics in Congress and on a memoir.

This story appeared in the July 17-30, 2015 print issue under the headline: NCR a reader' retrospective: William and Lorraine D'Antonio .

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