Catholic Labor Movements in Europe

Catholic Labor Movements in Europe

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Catholic Labor Movements in Europe
    Book Description:

    Catholic Labor Movements in Europe narrates the history of industrial labor movements of Catholic inspiration in the period from the onset of World War I to the reconstruction after World War II. The stated goal of concerned Catholics in the 1920s and 1930s was to "rechristianize society." But dominant labor movements in many countries during this period consisted of socialist elements that viewed religion as an obstacle to social progress. It was a daunting challenge to build robust organizations of Catholics who identified themselves with the working classes and their struggles.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2754-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In French, one often refers to the three decades following the Second World War as “les Trente Glorieuses” because of the vigorous postwar recovery (1945–75) that sustained itself with hardly a break until the first oil crisis.¹ And indeed, “les Trente Glorieuses” saw a most impressive economic boom in the Western democracies. Citizens experienced unprecedented peace and prosperity. If American nuclear-armed forces helped defend the peace and the American contribution in the form of the Marshall Plan catalyzed their prosperity, still, the Europeans themselves worked out the shape of both the peace and the prosperity that they began to...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Preparing the Ground, Sowing the Seed
    (pp. 5-14)

    When population growth and the Industrial Revolution started rearranging how people had to make their livings, there was a new school of thought ready to interpret what was happening and to offer guidance on how society should respond. Mercantilism still had its practitioners, but the nineteenth century would belong to the liberal economic prescriptions of Adam Smith and other theorists of classical economics. Smith emphasized the virtues of a market economy in ways that have been confirmed again and again since hisWealth of Nations(1776). He also memorably pointed out the increase in productivity that comes from the division...

  6. CHAPTER 2 World War I and the Condition of Labor
    (pp. 15-39)

    Pope Pius X died as war broke out between Austria, hence Germany, and Serbia, hence Russia and France. The conclave of cardinals elected the archbishop of Bologna, Giacomo Della Chiesa (1854–1922), as pope. He took the name of Benedict XV. The conclaves of 1914 and 1922 remained divided between the two tendencies that had prevailed throughout most of the nineteenth century at papal elections. It was a choice between a hard-line, anti-modernist course and the more supple and diplomatic variation of the same that Pope Leo XIII had pursued. The new pope, elected September 3, 1914, had the advantage...

  7. CHAPTER 3 A White International?
    (pp. 40-59)

    Before World War I, apart from the impulses communicated to and from the Vatican, there had only been occasional transnational contacts of Catholics interested in the social question and social justice (the most notable being the Congress of Liège in 1890). The only organization formally structured for international exchange and communication was the secretive, short-lived, and small “Union de Fribourg” (composed mostly of lay persons in both senses of the term—neither clergy nor trained specialists) who met annually seven times, starting in 1885.¹ New kinds of Catholic organizations, particularly those involved in the Christian labor movement developing in the...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Social Catholic Analyses before Quadragesimo Anno: COMMON AIMS, DIVERSE PATHS
    (pp. 60-87)

    In this chapter I provide a baseline in the theoretical and doctrinal assumptions, arguments, and issues that were broadly shared in the 1920s among Catholics concerned with social justice, particularly as regards the relations of the propertied and propertyless classes. Several typical examples of the consistency of the social Catholic stances have already been encountered. Here we wish first to examine the theorists. It will be helpful to indicate where on an ideological spectrum the different schools or orientations of social Catholicism placed themselves—how they differed from and related to one another. Equally important is the correlative question as...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Vitality in the Low Countries
    (pp. 88-105)

    Both Belgium and the Netherlands developed vigorous Catholic labor movements in the 1920s. Belgium preceded the Netherlands in industrial development and in regard to social Catholicism by several decades in the nineteenth century, but some Dutch Catholics also became active in the labor field before World War I.¹ To fill in this part of the picture, we begin this chapter with the Netherlands. The two neighboring Catholicisms had much in common, including their use of the Dutch language in the northern part of Belgium. Belgium was a Catholic country, however, whereas Reformed churches were historically predominant in the Netherlands. By...

    (pp. 106-120)

    Like the challenge mounted in Belgium in the late 1920s against Catholic organizations for the working class, a contemporary struggle in France gave evidence of sharp differences among Catholics. It too ended with a vindication for the workers, but it was much more notorious and protracted. A Catholic employers’ organization, the Patrons du Nord, stoked the controversy against a Catholic labor union. Among the differences between Charleroi in Belgium and Roubaix to the west in French Flanders, two factors immediately stand out. One was the complication arising from a more sensationalaffairein the religio-political realm—namely, the papal reprimand...

  11. CHAPTER 7 New Departures in Catholic Action: YOUTH MOVEMENTS IN THE WORKING CLASS
    (pp. 121-142)

    Young people, “youth,” grew into a much more distinct demographic category between childhood and adulthood in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, long before one spoke of teenagers. The Catholic world, like Western culture at large, devoted considerable attention to its members in this age group, with some distinctive developments. A sound custom assigned the responsibility of rearing children and youth to the Christian family and the Christian school, but for those who had left school, the need was clear for supplementary Christian influence. The work that the YMCA and YWCA undertook in the Anglo-Saxon and Protestant world was the province,...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Women’s Catholic Labor Movements
    (pp. 143-160)

    The women’s movements of the modern period had their counterparts in organized Catholicism, particularly after the turn of the century. Catholic women structured their movements along the patterns of mobilization that had developed in the various countries and encountered the typical frictions and turf battles. Given the role expectations that prevailed for women in European society as a whole and in Catholic circles in particular, the efforts of some pioneers that led to lasting organizational results are revealing as to the possibilities that they envisioned and the obstacles they faced.

    Our focus will be on the activities of Catholic women...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Christian Labor in Weimar Germany
    (pp. 161-183)

    When one turns to defeated Germany after World War I, one is struck by the prominence accorded by historians of Christian labor in this period to matters of party politics and government. Rapid adjustments had to be made to post-monarchical forms of government for which the Christian parties and labor movements were not prepared. Nevertheless, in the new republics, Christian unions and workers’ leagues strove to wield political influence and had a significant measure of success. And indeed, the cause of democracy depended on them to the extent that they could do so. The failure of democracy to withstand its...

    (pp. 184-211)

    The defeat and disintegration of the Austrian Empire led to the Treaty of St. Germain with the victorious powers in 1919 Paris. Italy having joined the latter, it incorporated the formerly Austrian territories of the Trentino, South Tyrol, Trieste, and Istria. This chapter traces the history of Christian labor movements in both Catholic countries, focusing on developments roughly from the Versailles peace conference to the Depression. Again, democracy was at stake. How did the anti-democratic reaction affect workers? How did Catholic workers’ organizations cope with this trend while bending their efforts to improve the position of the working class in...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Quadragesimo Anno, 1931: ITS CONTROVERSIAL RECEPTION
    (pp. 212-230)

    Among Pope Pius XI’s many pronouncements, none roiled the world of labor more than his encyclical “On Reconstructing the Social Order and Perfecting It Conformably to the Precepts of the Gospel”:Quadragesimo anno

    Pope Pius XI issued this encyclical “forty years” afterRerum novarum(1891) and thus created the tradition of papal social encyclicals. It was a time of much distress and tension in Italian society, just before Mussolini let loose his crackdown on Catholic Action. In Europe at large, poverty and indebtedness surged, especially, it seemed, in republics with a democratic constitution. WhenQuadragesimo annoappeared on May 15,...

  16. CHAPTER 12 France, Belgium, the Netherlands: CHRISTIAN LABOR IN THE DEPRESSION YEARS
    (pp. 231-254)

    In Western Europe the Christian labor movements and unions continued to unfold their activities and even solidify their gains in the 1930s. In this period they struggled under economic hardship followed by harsh wartime repression. It was also a time when the Christian laborites staked out positions and accumulated experience with which they could then contribute to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.

    For the Christian unions in all three of the Western European countries in view here, the 1930s were a time when they finally achieved a certain recognition of their role in society at large alongside...

  17. CHAPTER 13 Labor and Catholicism under the Impact of World War II
    (pp. 255-280)

    During World War II, with independent labor organizations suppressed, activists shifted their focus to planning for the postwar future while maintaining or even increasing like-minded contacts to the extent possible. Participation in various levels and kinds of resistance to the wartime occupations proceeded in tandem with laying the groundwork for life after liberation. With the final victory of the Allied forces over Nazi domination, the challenge became urgent to build democratic structures and to undertake the beginnings of reconstruction with whatever resources were available. Then, from about 1947 on, there quickly followed the new situation of the Cold War. Western...

  18. CHAPTER 14 Working within Secular Pluralism
    (pp. 281-292)

    To take a longer view: in the eighteenth century, Christianity suffered marked losses with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. In the nineteenth century, concomitant with the rise of industrial society, a process of Christian revival and gathering strength began in many parts of Europe. One modernizing phenomenon of the period is precisely the sort of Christian labor movements that we have been treating here. Charles Taylor, in his impressive studyA Secular Age, has dubbed this period, roughly from 1800 to the 1950s, “the Age of Mobilization.”¹ Summing up, he writes that the aim of all this mobilization was...

  19. Conclusion
    (pp. 293-296)

    I would like here to limn a broad view of some developments in the Catholic world of Western Europe in the age of industrialization, and of what I might call the classical age of social Catholicism, coinciding with Taylor’s “Age of Mobilization,” circa 1820 to the 1950s.

    The effects of British industrialization were felt first in Belgium and France in the aftermath of the French Revolution. French and German Catholic thinkers responded to the signs of social disintegration by calling for the reforging of the social bonds in ways looking backward or forward.¹ Associations, charitable and social in inspiration, constituted...

    (pp. 297-330)
    (pp. 331-336)
    (pp. 337-342)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-343)