The CATHOLIC UNIVERSE BULLETIN, the official organ of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, first appeared on 4 July 1874 as the Catholic Universe. Established by Bp. RICHARD GILMOUR, it began with a subscription list purchased from the Celtic Index, a failing clerical weekly from the Youngstown area. It was first edited by Rev. Thos. P. Thorpe, followed by layman MANLY TELLO. Bp. Gilmour remained its guiding spirit, however, subsidizing it from private means and those of his friends. Upon Gilmour's death in 1891, the Universe came under the control of a private stock company owned by the diocese and individual laymen and priests. A rival appeared in 1911, when the Catholic Bulletin was begun as an education organ of the diocese's Catholic Young Men's Clubs. Under Bp. JOSEPH SCHREMBS, the two papers were merged into the Catholic Universe Bulletin on 28 May 1926. Ownership of the paper was vested in the Catholic Press Union, a nonprofit organization owned by the Diocese of Cleveland, which also began publishing diocesan papers for Toledo (Chronicle, 1934) and Youngstown (Exponent, 1944).
As the country and the Catholic church emerged from World War II into the postwar baby boom, the Universe Bulletin reached its apogee. For 4 years (1951-54), it was judged the best Catholic paper in the country by the national Catholic Press Union, and at the end of 1963 its circulation peaked at 122,468. In the backlash against the Vatican II reforms and the civil-rights movement, circulation fell nearly 50,000 by 1972, although the Universe Bulletin's strong stand for civil rights had brought it several interdenominational awards. Rising printing and postage costs caused the Universe Bulletin to convert to tabloid format in the 1970s and to switch from weekly to biweekly publication in 1982. In editorial policy, it never endorses candidates and it conforms to the bishop's stand on issues. Circulation in 1995 was 40,000; the managing editor was Joseph Polito.