Crisis Magazine Turns 40

This month Crisis turns 40. Founded by Ralph McInerny and Michael Novak, the journal was initially called Catholicism in Crisis (subtitled “A Journal of Lay Catholic Opinion”) and the first issue was published in November 1982, in the midst of the Cold War and before the rise of the internet. Much as today, the early 1980’s was a time of crisis in the Church and the world, and McInerny and Novak hoped to combat that crisis. Specifically, they saw Catholicism in Crisis as a response to the increasing political liberalization among the bishops in the United States

Originally published by the Brownson Institute, Catholicism in Crisis was first based out of Notre Dame. In 1984, the operation moved to Washington, D.C., and in 1986 the name was abbreviated to Crisis. The office was modest—a mere 750 square feet—and the staff was small (but included such notables as Philip Lawler and Dinesh D’Souza). Very quickly Crisis became an important and influential journal of Catholic opinion.

In 1995 the Brownson Institute transferred ownership of Crisis to the Morley Publishing Group, and from a simple journal Crisis was recast as a full-fledged (and full-color) magazine. It continued to focus on theology, spirituality, and politics, but also added coverage of the arts and culture.

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For its first 25 years—until 2007— Crisis was a print publication showcasing the thought of the leading Catholic voices of the time. The highpoint of the print run was the early 2000’s, when Crisis had over 33,000 subscribers—quite a feat for a relatively niche Catholic publication. 

Eventually, recognizing the difficulties of the dying print industry and the promise of the Internet, the leaders of Crisis moved the magazine fully online (first dubbed Inside Catholic but eventually changed back to Crisis). This has been its format for the past 15 years. As a free online magazine, Crisis is able to reach far more readers than the print edition ever could. 

In 2012 Sophia Institute Press took over ownership of Crisis from the Morley Publishing Group. Since then traffic to the site has steadily increased, with Crisis now one of the top Catholic sites on the Internet. 

In the past two years, Crisis has added many social media accounts to better connect with our readers. We have also added a podcast, Crisis Point, to provide commentary on the state of the Church and the world and to interview leading Catholics on subjects of interest to our audience. And very soon we will be releasing a totally redesigned website to better serve our readers. 

Over the past 40 years, Crisis has published more than 14,000 articles from nearly 2,000 different writers. All of our content is free, and we rely solely on donations from readers like you. The magazine has seen 12 editors over the years, including:

  • Michael Novak (founder)
  • Ralph McInerny (founder)
  • Philip F. Lawler
  • Dinesh D’Souza
  • Scott Walter
  • David Bovenizer
  • Deal Hudson
  • Brian Saint-Paul
  • John Zmirak
  • John Vella
  • Michael Warren Davis
  • Eric Sammons

As we state in our About Us page, the title of our magazine reflects the root meaning of the word “crisis,” which is “decision.” The world has reached a crisis point—a time to make a decision. Do we serve the City of God or the City of Man? All of our articles are an attempt to help Catholics—and friendly compatriots in the battle—be citizens of the City of God. We want to assist Catholics see through the lies of the modern world and make Christ the King of all things. 

For the past 40 years Crisis has been at the forefront of helping Catholics navigate today’s crisis. It is our hope that a magazine like Crisis will not be needed for another 40 years, we pray for a return to a more sane world and Church. But if the need is still there, you can count on Crisis to be there as well, supported by our generous readers.

  • Crisis Magazine

    Crisis Magazine has been America’s leading source for Catholic perspectives on religion, politics, and culture since 1982.

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