Supporting the Rights of Workers

female catholic justice blog pic
This is the emblem of the Cesar E. Chavez’ United Farm Workers of America AFL-CIO. This organization penned this informative letter about the progression of the Coca-Cola boycott.

This source discusses a Catholic women’s group’s efforts to reinstate worker’s rights to farmers who provided the product for Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid lemonade. The source features comments about the impact of the group’s boycott but also remarks on their need to do more work. The group was successful in achieving the rehiring “of the same farm workers…at the same wages.” However, there was still much work to be done as “there is no union contract providing job security, protection from deadly pesticides, grievance procedures or many other benefits these workers have had in the past 21 years.” This letter describes what has been done and what has not yet been accomplished. It also outlines the next steps that the organization hoped the recipients of this letter would carry out. These included the recipient’s endorsement of the Coca-Cola boycott as well as the publication of this endorsement to do the Coca-Cola Company as well as the press.

“there is no union contract providing job security, protection from deadly pesticides, grievance procedures or many other benefits these workers have had in the past 21 years.”

This source shows the dedication this Catholic women’s group had to social welfare and justice. It can be argued that they saw these types of issues as issues of moral character. The author described the “corporate shuffle” that the Coca-Cola Company employed as a tactic to “avoid its moral obligations to Florida farm workers. This explicit condemnation of Coca-Cola’s actions along with their characterization as immoral, it is easy to draw this conclusion. The author also began this letter with the quote, “What do you mean by crus[h]ing my people, and grinding down the poor when they look for you? Says the God of Hosts” (Isaiah 3:15)

This source shows evidence that in 1994, the year this letter was penned, Catholics still remained adamant about fighting for the rights of the worker. In the instance of the Coca-Cola boycott, that worker was no longer employed in urban factories during the period of rapid American industrialization. They were farm laborers in the citrus groves of Florida. This article shows the same type of social activism that is discussed in the McGreevy article. In this article, the author articulated the Papacy’s “concern about the conditions of industrial workers,” some of whom were Catholic, that moved to industrial centers in the North Atlantic (McGreevy). The comparison of these two sources shows the continuation of the fight amongst Catholics for the rights of workers. As shown in the Coca-Cola boycott letter source, progress has been made, but there was and still is more work to be done as articulated in 1994.

“What do you mean by crus[h]ing my people, and grinding down the poor when they look for you? Says the God of Hosts” (Isaiah 3:15)


History’s View on JFK’s Catholicism

article 1 photo.png

This article was published in the Nation’s Business publication in the September issue of 1960. In this short article written by Edward Folliard, the outcome of the 1960 Presidential Election is pondered as the advantages and the disadvantages that each candidate has is explored. This week we were tasked with describing how or if this historical coverage reflected any of the preconceptions or hostilities Catholics faced during this time.

Because John F Kennedy was not the sole focus of this article, his faith is not thoroughly explored in the piece. However, it was deemed an important enough factor to be briefly discussed while exploring the advantages and disadvantages he holds over his opposition. Due to its inclusion in the article, it is easy to extrapolate the importance of JFK’s faith in the race. However, it was made clear that its effect as a benefit or drawback was not easily determined. Folliard states that oppositional candidate Vice President Nixon believes “it will both help him and hurt him” and that the “advantages and disadvantages will cancel each other out.”

I believe it is most definitely arguable that JFK’s Catholicism was a constant debate during this campaign. However, I find it striking that JFK’s opponent does not immediately write it off as a disadvantage. I believe this is telling. With all of the resources, polling data, and research at their disposal, they did not immediately dismiss Kennedy’s Catholicism as detrimental but believed that its effect would be as nuanced as the campaign itself.

Catholics X 2018 Midterm

midterm post mortem poster


In this year’s midterm, I believe Catholics have voted like they’ve always voted. As usual, Catholics belong to neither one party nor another. During this years midterm, Catholics voted 50% for the Democratic Party and 49% voted Republican. As Micheal Murphy so aptly described, to be Catholic is to be politically homeless.  American Catholics don’t tend to vote as Catholics as a voting block. They tend to vote based on their other identities. Catholics have many homes in United States politics but not as Catholics. African American Catholics tend to vote as African Americans as a voting demographic and just as Latinx Americans tend to put their Latinx identities first before their Catholicism. This being said, the Catholic vote followed experts’ predictions as being unpredictable as a Catholic base. It is the other identities of American Catholics that largely determines how Catholics will vote.

post mortem powerpoint

One way voting was unpredictable was how much the White, rural American’s retaliatory vote would weigh. Many expected a backlash from voters against those who voted or raised concerned against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. I like many, assumed that any backlash generated would be against those who voted for him despite all allegations against him and the short investigation into them. However, this did not happen. As discussed during the Behind the Tweets, 2018 Midterm Post Mortem Panel, White, rural Americans who are already largely mobilized by the Republican Party voted it seems out of anger towards the “Me Too” movement. However, overall, based on exit poll data, voters who cited the Kavanaugh hearings and decision as a deciding factor was low.

In general, Republicans, specifically Catholic Republicans have been giving the Supreme Court more attention than Democrats. Over the bast decades, the Republican party has been campaigning on the subject of stacking the Supreme Court with Conservatives Justices. For many Conservatives, the idea of a Republican-heavy Supreme Court is necessary to reverse Roe v Wade, which has been a large goal since 1973. If anything, Brett Kavanaugh’s Catholicism helped him gain favor amongst those who would like to see this landmark decision overturned. It has also been speculated that Kavanaugh’s Catholicism may override his conservative nature. This stems from his questioning of a recent court case pertaining to the death penalty. Although Republicans tend to be pro-death penalty, Kavanaugh questioned the humanity of making a prisoner chose his own method of execution due to a pre-existing health condition that would make lethal injection inhumane. His presence on the Court bench has also raised the question on the subpoena power of the House. Now that Democrats hold the majority of seat in the House of Representatives, the subject of the extent of the subpoena power that the House holds over the President of the United States will likely end up before the Supreme Court. This will affect the ability of the Democratic Party to investigate matters pertaining to Mr. Trump, his family, and his business interests.


Catholicism and Conservatism

This we in class we discussed how Conservatism and Catholicism intersect. In the article American Catholics and the New Conservatism of the 1950s the author, Patrick Allitt discusses the Conservative movement and how Catholics became involved. He says that until the mid-1950s, conservatives in America were poorly represented. He discusses the existence of some publications that were not explicitly Catholic but as “conservative journals of opinion.” These were the National Review in 1955 and Modern Age in 1956. There was a sense of uneasiness with the pre-conciliar Church among liberal and conservative Catholics alike. Allitt describes New Conservatives as more than an intellectual justification of McCarthyism. Catholic journalists and activists (both liberal and conservative) in the 1950s found themselves lumped together (willingly and unwillingly) on the basis of their faith. Although many had dissenting political views, they would come together in defense of a common faith. This may be one reason why it is commonly thought that, in general, that Catholics vote in the same way, that there is a “Catholic vote.”

national review


In the next article, God Save This Honorable Court: Religion as a Source of Judicial Policy Preferences, written by William Blake, he studies the tendencies of Catholic Supreme Court justices to make rulings based on their faith. He argues that political scientists should consider the source of Supreme Court preferences based on policy. He believes that “religion is one force that can strongly shape a judge’s worldview and therefore her or his votes.” Based on his research, he has found that “Catholic justices vote in ways that more closely adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church than non-Catholic justices (even after controlling for ideology).” He has found that Catholic ideology affects Justices differently than other ideologies, namely Jewish or Protestant. Religious values were found to play a more prominent role in public life for Catholic justices. This research, if applied to everyday Americans, supports the commonly held idea that Catholics very often vote solely on religious ideology, or based on the issues that the Church says are most important. This phenomenon may be explained because the Catholic Church exists in a very strict hierarchy. Most Protestant and Jewish denominations reject religious hierarchies. It may also be argued that Catholic justices behave differently than non-Catholic justices because Catholics tend to have “different attitudes regarding the role of faith in public life”. Whether consciously or subconsciously, Catholic justices may feel more compelled to reflect their Catholic values in their behavior and decisions as judges than others. Blake poses 13 hypotheses pertaining to the relationship between Catholic justices and how conservatively they vote. The data he gathered largely support Blake’s hypothesis that “religion is a source of judicial policy preferences”. “Religion may not be as powerful an influence as ideology, but religion might shape the development of judicial ideology.

Supreme court

Detroit’s Cold War: The Origins of Post-War Conservatism, written by Colleen Doody, describes the intersection between Catholicism and the Anti-Communism attitudes prevalent after the Cold War. Initially, Northern Catholics were devoted supporters of the democratic party and the new deal. Then during the 19th century, Catholic opposition to Communism began. This was long before the Cold War began. This is because church leaders had fears that Marxism would influence Catholics, specifically the working class Catholics that Marxism had a history of appealing to. In order to also appeal to working-class Catholics to combat the influence of Marxism, the Church hierarchy criticized industrialization and condemned the terrible working conditions that were hallmarks of industrialism. The Catholic hierarchy’s fear of Communism and Marxism stems from the church’s fears of the secularism that comes with them. They feared that secularism would undermine more traditional sources of moral authority. The churches fears and responses to Communism and Marxism gained traction as Church views became more and more similar to American Cold-War policies. Catholics in Detroit were “the backbone and the bane” of what is described as New Deal Liberalism. Later on, they helped form a new conservative movement in the 1950s and 60s. The author argues that “it is impossible to understand conservAtism without exploring the grassroots culture of pre- and post-war Catholicism” and its role in anti-Marxism and anti-Communism in America.

catholic anti-communism
In this magazine, Catholics consider utilizing Sunday School in order to discourage the spread of Marxist and Communist ideas.

Author Samuel A Mills, in “Parochiaid and the Abortion Decisions: Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.” argues that there is “little evidence of Any specific philosophical framework with which the new justice (Williams J Brennan) would approach issues of constitutional law. However, despite this, Catholics were still, overall, very happy with this appointment because Brennen would be the first Catholic judge since Frank Murphy. Brennen emphasized is view on the importance of the judiciary to guard the individual rights and liberties of Americans. During his time on the bench, Brennen had many cases that “forced him to choose between following the mandates of the Constitution as he viewed them and following the will of his own religious leaders.” When asked, if, in retrospect, Brennen believed he would decide differently now, he sharply said, “Hell, no…I never thought I was wrong.”


In his Things Not Seen interview, Steven P. Millies is interviewed. He got his BA from Loyola University Chicago and trained as a political theorist at The Catholic University of America in Washinton, DC. He is also an associate professor of public theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL. He is also the director of The Bernardin Center. His comments have been featured in American Magazine and The National Catholic Reporter. He argues, in his interviews, that the religious composition of the US Supreme Court has undergone a remarkable transformation. He describes pro-life as primarily an abortion debate. It dominates the argument. He also spends time talking about Father Frank Pavone. He is now somewhat of a controversial figure after he published a video he created urging voters to vote on the single issue of abortion. It was the images contained in this video that were seen as unseemly by officials in the Catholic church as well as those outside of the church. He discusses how Catholics have aligned themselves with evangelicals towards the end of the 1970s after the Roe v Wade decision in an effort to united for voting to defeat abortion rights. This conservative movement also discussed earlier in my blog came together with help from the Reagan presidency. He argues that this movement began to bring everyday Catholics more into public life.


As stated above, this coalition of Catholics alongside evangelicals is why many people assume that there is a Catholic vote. They assume that Catholic vote is solely focused on defeated legal abortions. He describes overturning the Roe v Wade decision as the “ultimate good” in the eyes of many.  I found it very interesting when he describes a shift as America moved into the 1980s when Catholic bishops became more and more concerned about confronting secular culture than dialoguing with it. Milles also describes how anti-Communism during the Cold War influenced actions and opinions of Catholics in America like Colleen Doody did in her article Detroit’s Cold War: The Origins of Post-War Conservatism.

In the Milles’ reading “Good Intentions” from the first week of class, he discusses the fact that many people’s attachment to party is more emotional than intellectual. This applies to both Democrats and Republicans. This applies as he tries to explain the phenomenon of people supporting Trump in the Republican party even though, morally his positions and personal life directly contrast the morals and pillars of the Republican party. However, all of this could be put aside because Trump promised victory and this is the emotional element Milles describes. He cites Trump’s statement that, he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and [he] wouldn’t lose any voters. This desire to win the executive, along with the possibility of creating a Conservative-dominated Supreme Court was too much of an opportunity to pass up. Supporting Trump also fell into the domain of those Catholics who vote solely on the issue of abortion, which was previously discussed in this blog.

The Case of Political Ideologies

Global1968logoThe 1968 events this week covered a lot of different topics. The panel discussion featured 3 different topics. Firmin deBrabander discussed how the prevalence of right-wing support for the NRA has exploded over the past twenty years. He explains the narrative that the NRA has shifted from not just being a club for hunting enthusiasts but an uber-powerful lobbyist for gun manufacturers. The change in their use of rhetoric was also discussed and the methods of prejudiced speech utilized to convince people to buy guns. The history of the 2nd amendment was also discussed and it quickly became apparent that most Americans gravelly misunderstand the conditions implied in the 2nd amendment during the founding of the United States. Settlers had the right to bear arms but had to pass marksmanship tests and submit to the inspection of how they safely stored their weapon to name a few. DeBradander next explained his theory that the reason White men support the NRA so much more than others. He theorizes that because White men are overwhelmingly witnessing other demographics being elevated to their level, this causes them to feel as if they are losing control. DeBradander argues that literally owing a gun is like trying to take that power back. Evidence of this comes from the NRA’s use of rhetoric against these demographics to scare their supporters into buying even more firearms for their protection.


The next panelist was Kathleen Belew. She spoke about white-nationalist groups and the influence of the Vietnam war on their psyches, radicalizations, and their organizations. She discussed that many members of these organizations returned from fighting in the Vietnam War still fighting their crusade back home. She discussed how some members were quoted pondering why can they kill or terrorize communists in the US when that what they were paid for in Asia. However, the “communists” they were targeting in the US were displaced Vietnamese refugees, not the enemy. This mindset topped by the fact that they returned home with very little benefits, angered many white-nationalists to-be. Belew also discussed how the white-nationalist movement that she studied was a fringe organization operating in a very isolated manner. Those at the heart of these organizations’ entire world can be found within it. These white-nationalist groups are an amalgamation of many different groups from skinheads, to neo-Nazis, to Aryan brotherhood, to the KKK.


Another lecture was led by Don Stemen. He spoke about how, in the 1960s,  perceptions of crime and punishment were used to demonize minorities and mobilize southern whites to vote Republican out of fear. He describes a shift in society from describing crimes as results from social situations of inequality to simple choices of bad individuals. He also discusses how there was a large uptick in linking crime to race. America made a shift to “governing through crime.” He describes this shift as a decline in rehabilitation efforts and a spike in incarcerations. The idea that more social control through law and order (more punishment, longer sentences, more police) would fix the spiking crime problem facing this time. During this period we see a spike in the legislation of re-offender sentences, 3 strikes-you’re out legislation and mandatory sentencing. Reverence for victims by naming policy and law after them also becomes common practice. Stemen discusses how it’s hard to oppose a law, even if it is bad legislation if an innocent victim’s name is attached to it. Stemen also discusses how the emergence of Trump has marked a new emergence of the fearmongering practices of the past.

“Governing through crime.”


In the reading for the week, we see how religion influences the political ideology of individuals in a way that wasn’t discussed during the 1968 panel. In The Blessed Virgin Made Me a Socialist Historian, the author discusses how Catholic ideology shaped her political stances. She describes how her introduction to the Cold War and its politics came from Catholic children’s publications. She explains how the publication, Treasure Chest, described China, communism, and the “tragic fates of our missionaries.”  She describes the shifts in Catholic attitudes towards the war. Initially, she explains that the “our nuns” welcomed Castro because of his Jesuit education. However, these attitudes quickly shifted as news of Catholic suffering began to trickle out of Florida. She also describes how the stikes and unions that were ever-present in her grandparent’s life were encouraged and only eclipsed by the presence of the Church.

“My introduction to the Cold War came not from the usual popular cultnre
sources cited now in historical works on the subject, but from Treasure Chest (a Catholic children’s publication)”


The next article, The Family, the Gospel, and the Catholic Worker, the author discusses “the radical call of the gospel.” The author poses numerous questions about the nature of following the radical aspect of Christianity. The author discusses how the “triad” of poverty, chastity, and obedience are seen as signs of perfection while religious themes of nonviolence were downplayed. The author argues that “to be a Catholic Worker, was to revive the “lay apostolate by practicing the works of mercy – feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and visiting those in prise – in whatever life circumstances one found oneself.”

The last article, Communities of Resistance: Women and the Catholic Left of the Late 1960s the author examines how gender shaped the political cultures and communities among radical Catholics. They discuss how the Catholic heritage can be seen in those like the Catonsville Nine, Dorothy Day, and the Catholic Worker movement. Through Catholicism, a community is found, as well as justification for resistant action. Although many influential actions taken by women have not be given the attention that their influence deserves, when studied, it is undeniable the lasting impact that those like Dorothy Day have made and the impact that their legacy continues to make.

Is it Local? Politics and Religion

“All politics is Local” – Tip O’Neill 

In the article “All Politics is Local: The Debate and the Graphs,” Former Massachusett’s congressman Tip O’Neil is quoted saying “All Politics is Local.” What a perfect way to begin this blog post. The author uses the quote as a jumping off point to debate this argument. Gelman is a statistician and professors of statistics and politician science at Columbia University. He argues that “politics is less local than it used to be. He utilizes statistical evidence gathered during presidential elections to support his claim that the United States is becoming increasingly nationalized. His calculations are based on the “incumbency advantage” and found that may political scientists assume this advantage is more influential than it really is. Although the advantage does exist, it is less influential than assumed and it shows that “some politics are more powerful than others,” but that you can’t put too much influence on the politics at the local level.

 “Some politics are more powerful than others” – Andrew Gelman 

In this article was written by John Buenker, professor emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, with a focus on Progressivism. He argues that it is necessary for politicians to make everything local in order to keep the support of their constituents. He says that “the most effective American politicians of native stock played down their own antecedents by emphasizing their ethnic connections and respecting cultural differences.” This ethnic similarity at their local level is the connection and attention politicians must grow and maintain in order to gain favor and stay in office.

“The most effective American politicians of native stock played down their own antecedents by emphasizing their ethnic connections and respecting cultural differences” – John Buenker 

In this next article,  the author perfectly synthesizes the concepts of a local Catholicism as well as a local political landscape. Ellen Skerrett is a Researcher, Author, and Historian of Chicago with a special interest in Irish America. Skerrett argues that Chicago Catholicism is distinctive from the Catholicism of other Northeastern cities because Catholicism grew up with the city itself. When Catholic immigrants were gathering in Chicago, the city was still relatively new. These largely Irish-Catholic immigrants were able to infiltrate and influence the newly forming Democratic machine. In the article Chicago’s Irish Americans and the Candidates of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932 – 1944, Kennedy references similar things mentioned in the Skerrett article. He argues that “in Chicago…Irish Americans had assumed control of a newly constructed Democratic machine that would dominate the city through the 1970s.” He argues that Catholicism was an “overarching component of Irish American identity in Chicago.” If any politician hoped to do well at any level of government they needed the support of their local constituents. This drove home the importance of politicians identifying with this power group or by showing understanding of and solidarity with the group.

chicago democratic machine
This image is in reference to the “Chicago Democratic Machine.” If you look closely, you can see a picture of Mayor Daley hanging in the background. He will be mentioned later in this blog post.

“Catholicism served as the overarching component of Irish American identity in Chicago.” – Kennedy 

This article also ties into the discussion of whether Catholic parishes have always been local. Similarly to points Buenker made in a previously discussed article, using ethnic connections to relate to constituents is important. However, the article also emphasized the importance of utilizing the importance and omnipresence of Catholicism to a politician’s advantage.

old pic of church
This is an image of the old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago

The next article was written by Joe Merton.  He is a member of the Department of History at the University of Nottingham. He discusses the presence of “white ethnic identity politics.” Political figures, through religious institutions, encouraged groups to refuse American assimilation and identify strongly with their white ethnic identity. This allowed political figures to gain ground with and relate to their white ethnic local populations. The politicians communicated the message they were “with you” as white ethnics.

In the article about Mayor Daley,  the importance of appeasing local constituents was highlighted. The article recalls a time where the mayor and some businessmen were concerned about downtown Chicago. They feared how “Black Ghetto” would scare away their white consumer base. In order to maintain his political success, politicians had to take local businessmen into account. The mayor had to listen to the fears of the businessmen, especially after the number of alternatives for that fleeting customer base increased in the postwar era.

This past weekend was Open House Chicago. While exploring the city I realized that in many ways these Catholic churches have always been local. I visited Holy Name Cathedral in the Gold Coast, City Hall in Downtown, Catholic Charities St. Louise de Marillac Chapel in Gold Coast, St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in West Town, and St. Peters Roman Catholic Church in the Loop. We found that in the city of Chicago each church takes on the unique personality of the neighborhood they are in. By talking to classmates, I learned that the churches in neighborhoods homes to majority African-American demographics, utilize Black art and images of Black figures in the religious imagery decorating the space. This is done so that churchgoers can relate to the images, stories, and lesson being taught. St. Stanislaus was in a Polish-dominated area of Chicago. To integrate that, the church had a lot of Polish written on signs outside the church as well as inside the church. According to the OpenHouseChicago volunteer, art and iconography in a traditional polish style are what I saw decorating the church. I learned that the Catholic Charities building that house the St. Louise de Marillac Chapel was once a home for women and children. I was told that the church was uniquely located on the third floor of the building as a way of encouraging only the residents of the building to use the facility. They paid special attention in order to make this chapel a safe-space for the oftentimes unwed mothers and their children who housed in this place, free from the judgemental eyes of those outside the building.

St. Peters
St. Peter’s

To Act or Not to Act (on Social Issues)

In this blog post, I will be analyzing the shift was see discussed in many of the articles pertaining to the lack of action and attention given to minority issues by Catholics, initially, and how that all changed as time passed. In the first McGreevy article titled “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty” Brownson is discussed. The article discusses the frustration he felt at being pinned between an “anti-Catholic sentiment… and coreligionists” creating the impression that a Catholic must make “himself a foreigner in the land of his birth” (McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”). This, I believe, is evidence of a shift in the opinions of some Catholics in America. Previously, Brownson had “declared his distaste for slavery, but attacked abolitionists with greater vigor” (McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”). He also defended the fugitive slave law by describing the law as constitutional.

Brownson had “declared his distaste for slavery, but attacked abolitionists with greater vigor” (McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”).

He went on to state that the “Constitution authorizes nothing repugnant to the divine law” (McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”). Brownson’s opinions shifted like the opinions of many Catholics across America. Previously, they had few restrictions on their ability to own slaves. Some “urged that they could still work with the slave population without urging for their emancipation” (McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”).


This shift hit in full force in around the 1840s according to McGreevy. In the same way, for years, Father Pfleger has emphasized the shortfalls in our society about acknowledging and working to combat the continually felt effects of slavery and incomplete civil rights. Until recently, it is arguable that many Catholics, in general, were unaware of this issue and whereas some still are apathetic to the plight faced by many. This ignorance or unwillingness to see that change needs to be made can be paralleled to the pre-1840s time Catholics had no major controversy in owning slaves. However, due to efforts by activists, journalists, and everyday people like Father Pfleger, we are moving to a point that has many people Catholics included, considering their roles in the oppression of minority population.

priest and King

The Issel article as shows a similar evolution of the consciousness of Catholics in America. When debated whether or not San Francisco would “preserve or repudiate its 1963 anti-discrimination housing law the same debated were had. Similar debates were had. A new generation of American and Catholics had to decide whether this issue of housing discrimination was still present and if a law was still needed. This debate could have been spawned by a lack of awareness of the existence and prevalence of the same old problem. Delong cites a new emphasis on social programs and ministries of service led many Catholics to view racial justice as a calling. This can be a lens through which we can understand the occurrence of Father Pfleger as was seen in Memphis

In McGreevy’s second article “Racial Justice and the People of God,” he discusses the presence of a feeling of neglect of social issues in the Catholic church initially. “Catholic participation in southern civil rights movement culminated at Selma in 1965. Previously, the “priests in charge of the African American “mission” parish were ignored by the other clergy in the city. Although the problems and the very existence of minorities would rather be ignored previously, this attitude shifted as well.

“Priests in charge of the African American “mission” parish were ignored by the other clergy in the city” (McGreevy “Racial Justice and the People of God).

Like previously stated, these shifts parallel a reality we now see with Father Pfleger. As a Catholic priest, he is very outspoken when it pertains to issues of social and racial justice. He also appeals to others, encouraging them to be involved, even in the smallest of ways, in eliminating issues of inequality and injustice in American communities. He made reference to this in his recent homily. Father Micheal Pfleger has ministered to the African-American community of West and South Chicago, spent time working in an Oklahoma Native-American community, and ministered to inmates at Cook County Jail in Chicago. He is very familiar with the plights of minorities and the underserved as is evident through these experiences. He really brings the lessons and perspectives he has gained from these experiences into his preaching as a priest and also as a concerned citizen. He makes sure to spread his word to even those will may not want to listen. During the summer months of this year, many ShutDownDanRyan protests were organized through the efforts of Father Pfleger as well as others. He spreads his message about many different social justice issues from accepting and respecting those of the LGBT community, police brutality, and environmental racism.


4 addition articles used (MAKE-UP)

Father Michael Pfleger on Sex Abuse in the Church, the new Pope & More

The Emotions of War

In Seminar this week, we discussed the role of Catholic organizations in anti-war efforts. Concurrent with this week’s discussion, we had the privilege of attending Loyola University Chicago’s Berrigan Week activities and exhibits. The film Seeking Shelter demonstrates the love and care of a community and its ability to band together to take on social change. The residents of the island aimed to preserve the national landscape of Block Island, the place that brought peace and faith inspired by the natural landscape. It was this place and people that inspired, protected, and provided a community for those like  Father Daniel Berrigan and the civil rights lawyer William Stringfellow.

daniel berrigan

Other activities throughout the week included a panel discussion about “the Catholic Left” along with a talk about who Daniel Berrigan and William Stringfellow were as theologians and activists. During these discussions, I learned that during the 1960s, specifically in 1968, the world was changing and the traditional roles were being warped. Priests and theologians, who were previously perceived by some as dutiful and unobtrusive, began publically taking a stand against the injustices they witnessed, including, the Vietnam war. Everything and anything was up for debate within the Church. The debate we focused on through the week’s activities were of “the intrinsic demands of the Christian faith” and the call to not cause harm to another human being in the context of the American war in Vietnam (Au). To reference the first week of class, and the idea that there is no “Catholic vote,” there was and still is “a dividing line in the Catholic debates on war and peace” (Au). “Conflicting groups of Catholics revealed that they saw the issue of war to be part of a larger cultural issue, concerning the type of society which is compatible with the Christian view of the human condition” (Au). Once again, the Church was divided and there was no clear indication on how the majority of Catholics would approach this debate.

“Conflicting groups of Catholics revealed that they saw the issue of war to be part of a larger cultural issue” (Au).

Two major groups that dominated the social movements of the time were the Catholic Association for International Peace (CAIP) and the Catholic Worker Movement. The beliefs held by the CAIP followed the Just War Theory. This theory is used to justify actions through the belief that it is America’s duty to protect others abroad. Those actions include any necessary military action needed in order to accomplish that goal. In contrast, the Catholic Worker Movement, started by Dorothy Day, is now the longest-lived Catholic, radical, pacificist group in America. They opposed the conflict and death that accompanies war efforts.

dorothy day

There were also other motives American Catholics had for supporting the war. Rowland argues that “Catholicism itself was undoubtedly the greatest impediment to Irish-America’s assimilation” (Rowland). In order to combat this, some Irish-American Catholics joined the war effort in an attempt to appear more patriotic and pro-America.

“Catholicism itself was undoubtedly the greatest impediment to Irish-American assimilation.” 

We also had the privilege to listen to the Sounds of Protest presentation. It featured anti-war music from a skilled guitarist and singer and poetry read by Fred Marchant. Music and art has a way of transporting us directly into the point of view of the person who composed the song or poem. It has a way of attaching the person listening directly to the feeling and urges felt by the writer. In the context of protest, music and poetry can communicate the joy of triumph, the pain of heartbreak and oppression, along with the desire to act and change the world.

sound of protest


Au, William A. “American Catholics and the Dilemma of War 1960-1980.” JSTOR,

Catholic University of America Press, 1985,

Rowland, Thomas J. “Irish-American Catholics and the Quest for Respectability in the

Coming of the Great War, 1900-1917.” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 15, no.

2, 1996, pp. 3–31. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Exploring Chicago’s History

As we discussed during our seminar session this week, Catholics were not always seen as full citizens in the United States. For a very long time, there has been a prejudice labeling Catholics as “other.” This “otherness” made Catholics not exactly White, like a separate ethnicity. Overall, I think the prejudices that Catholics faced in the past have been tempered. If anything, this is because prejudices for other groups have taken the attention off of American Catholics. However, I do expect to see remnants of the past prejudices reemerge from time to time, especially if the initial prejudice was not truly eliminated but simply “distracted from”. I imagine it could reemerge in a similar way that prejudice towards Catholics affected President John F. Kennedy. It was used in an attempt to damage his creditability by suggesting he would be more loyal to the Pope than to the American people. I imagine, those with prejudices against Catholics wouldn’t attempt to label us as lesser, due to our faith, as they sometimes do with other groups. However, they may use Catholicism as a way to discredit or create doubts.

As an assignment for class, I traveled around to parts of Chicago that were completely new to me. This task was very intimidating, but I used it as an excuse to overcome my reservations and anxieties about traveling in a new part of the city by myself. While exploring historical sites around Chicago, I ran across a statue commemorating James Connolly. He was a Catholic Irishman who is described as an Irish patriot and labor leader. The statue was erected and dedicated in 2008 by the Irish-American Labor Council of Chicago. This statue is a reminder of the work that many Catholics did in support of the development of labor unions. The statue was placed in Union park which was named after the “federal union” in 1853. The park’s social history also extends far beyond its naming after unions. The park also became the first integrated park in Chicago in the 1910’s, when African American populations began settling in the neighborhood.

Walking around Chicago’s neighborhoods really brought to my attention the little pieces of history scattered throughout everyday life in the city. The history of Union Park, James Connolly, and the Haymarket Affair are not forgotten in Chicago. If anything, the histories and their global impacts are celebrated as victories for the common man and pieces of proud Chicagoan heritage.





Labor Rights

I was quite interested in the fact that Catholic’s were at the forefront of labor rights battles. In some cases, they were huge supporters of labor unions. I do share many of these same opinions on wages, benefits, working conditions, and rights on the job. As someone who has grown up in the 21st century, almost all of the rights Catholics at this time were fighting for, I have had the benefit of living with, no questions asked. The laws restricting the hours and types of work children the ages of 15, 16, and 17 can do have always been there protecting myself and my friends who also started working early. Weekends have always been a given.

I do share the same belief that labor unions are highly beneficial. Especially, now that I have left the food-service industry after 3 years at Chick-fil-A in Louisville, Kentucky. As a Resident Assitant at Loyola Chicago, the job is, overall, very enjoyable. However, there are definitely things that could be improved. They way we are paid and the laundry list of things we are expected to do can definitely be discussed and negotiated. The job really does go far beyond the description on paper. However, because we are classified as “student leaders” and not employees, we are not allowed to join organizations like unions. This essentially takes any negotiation power we may have or want off of the table. There are always things that may be improved and although we can make suggestions, that does not mean that they will be discussed or implemented.


labor union photo