Editor and author; b. in Chicago, March 16, 1916; d. in Santa Barbara, Cal., March 28, 1976. He attended parochial schools, the Servite preparatory seminary, and Loyola University in Chicago. During the Depression he joined the Catholic Worker movement, led by Dorothy day and Peter maurin. For four years he was in charge of its St. Joseph House of Hospitality, Chicago, and edited the Chicago Catholic Worker. A nonpacifist despite his Catholic Worker connection, Cogley served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1945. After the war he was cofounder and coeditor of Today, the national Catholic student magazine. After a stint in Switzerland, studying theology at the Catholic University of Fribourg, he returned to the United States, and in 1949 he became executive editor of commonweal, the lay-edited journal of opinion where he was to remain as an editor for five years and as a columnist for another ten.
In 1955 Cogley left Commonweal to join the Fund for the Republic (now the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions). His first task was to head a study of blacklisting in the entertainment industry, producing a two-volume critical study of the widespread practice. Becoming a permanent member of the center, Cogley headed up the project on "Religious Institutions in a Free Society" with John Courtney murray and Reinhold niebuhr as consultants, and later the Center's study on "The American Character." In 1960 he served as church-state advisor in the Kennedy presidential campaign, playing a leading role in briefing Kennedy before the crucial Houston ministers' confrontation. In 1964 he took a leave from the center to live in Rome for a year while expanding an Encyclopedia Brittanica article into a book, Religion in a Secular Age (New York 1968), and at the same time covering the proceedings of vatican council ii for Religious News Service. In 1965 he left the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions to join the New York Times as religious news editor. In 1967 for reasons of health he returned to Santa Barbara and the center, where he become a senior fellow and founding editor of the successful Center Magazine. In 1972 he published Catholic America, a popular history of the Catholic church in this country. Among his other writings was a regular syndicated column for the Catholic diocesan press and later for the National Catholic Reporter.
After Humanae vitae, Pope Paul's encyclical on contraception, Cogley gave up writing his regular weekly column, feeling that it was not right for him to be considered a Catholic writer when he could no longer support papal positions. In A Canterbury Tale (New York 1976), his memoirs, he later wrote: "It was now clear to me that by the time of Humanae vitae I no longer accepted the papal claim to infallibility. … After 1968 and that fatalencyclical, I began to look more to the Episcopal Church." In September 1973 he joined the Episcopal church. He was ordained deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of California but died before he could become a priest.
Bibliography: New York Times Biographical Edition 7(1976) 337.