Here's a lot of links to the coverage of the change in the editor's chair at America magazine.
First, the magazine's statement. Very pointed, focused mostly on the new editor, Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J.
He is author of more than 100 articles on moral theology, ethics and international affairs, just war and nonviolence, Catholic social teaching, and family care of the elderly. His most recent book is Forgiveness in International Politics: An Alternative Road to Peace (USCCB, 2004), co-authored with William Bole and Robert T. Hennemeyer.
NYTimes article, which leads with the "Vatican said to push Jesuit off magazine" with quotes expressing surprise and friendship from the likes of Phil Lawler and Fr. Neuhaus:
Catholic experts said yesterday that they were stunned to learn of Father Reese's dismissal. "I'd think of him as sort of a mainstream liberal," said Philip F. Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News, a news outlet on the more conservative end of the spectrum. "I think he's been reasonably politic. I watched him during the transition, and I cannot think of a single thing I heard that would have put him in jeopardy."
The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of another Catholic journal based in New York, First Things, which is more conservative than America, said yesterday, "It would be fair to say that during the pontificate of John Paul II that America apparently saw itself or at least certainly read as a magazine of what some would describe as the loyal opposition. And, needless to say, there's dispute over the definition of 'loyal' and the definition of 'opposition.' "
But Father Neuhaus added that he considered Father Reese a friend who was always "fair-minded" even when they disagreed.
According to one source, the communication about Reese's fate was carried on between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the superior general of the Jesuits, Dutch Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, with the content then relayed to Reese's Jesuit superiors in the United States. Although critics of Reese both in the United States and Rome have occasionally accused him of an anti-hierarchical mentality, supporters noted in their responses to the congregation that over his seven years as editor, America routinely published weighty pieces by prominent members of the hierarchy, at one stage including Ratzinger himself.
In February 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith proposed creating a three-member commission of censors for the magazine, though the idea was never implemented. According to sources, the congregation told the Jesuits that the action was in response to concern from bishops in the United States.
Sources said no bishops were identified by name and that Reese was never directly contacted. According to a source close to the magazine, Jesuit superiors said some bishops were upset that Reese often commented on church matters for general media and that such commentary should be solely the province of bishops.
Note the actors in the drama not mentioned, as I said, in the other pieces: "some bishops."
One more: the AP story, that mentions, which the others don't, that:
An official at the Jesuit headquarters in Washington, the Rev. Albert Diulio, said Reese and his provincial supervisor had reached the decision together, and noted that Jesuits tend to rotate jobs every six or seven years.
In short, what conflict there was seems to have derived from America's publication of some articles (the NCR piece lists them) which, even though some were published in tandem with articles articulating the Church's teaching, were perceived as defining the magazine's identity - that is the "dissenting" articles, especially those on Dominus Iesus.
I'm intrigued by the hint that American bishops were involved, and amused by the suggestion, tinged with huffiness that The Jesuit was doing what The Bishops should be doing On TV. That's odd, if true. There are about a million Catholic commentators on television, and personally, I think the bishops should be far more concerned with Fr. McBrien becoming the default Catholic Clerical Expert on Pundit TV. Secondly, I'm not sensing that many bishops are jumping to do what Reese has done on television. I would suspect most of them are perfectly content to let an expert on the process of papal elections do the commentary on the same. If there's a bishop who wants to get on television, let his people call their people - I can't see a booker saying no to that, myself.
And do remember, on the other hand, the special relationship the Jesuits have, in theory to the Pope. That's why America would come under scrutiny while other journals might not.
More will undoubtedly be said and come out on this over the next few days. And I certainly hope there is, particularly from this side of the sea. Will someone from the Jesuits come out and say, on the record, what happened? After all, I'm sure this is going to be the occasion of some concerns being expressed about openness, about the importance of honesty in dialogue within the Church. Well, let's get started then: let's hear what really happened, for the record, on the record. Because the general impact of relying on rumors and anonymous sources is that we're left with the clear implication that this is, as one of my correspondents said, a "first scalp." If it is, that would be useful to know. If it's not - if it's merely the confluence of events - the normal tenure of a Jesuit in one position is up, combined with some tensions and a sense that now's the time for change - that would be useful and clarifying to know, as well. We've tried to demystify the selection of the Pope and other members of the hierarchy.Good! Now let's demystify the de-selection of the editor of America.