Wednesday, January 28, 2015

‘Worker Priests,’ where did they end up?

A BOOK REVIEW: SCANNING THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES – French Dominicans in the Twentieth Century by Thomas F. O’Meara and Paul Philibert, ATF Theology, Adelaide, 2013.

   Patrick Marrin wrote an excellent review of Scanning the Signs of the Times in the National Catholic Reporter.  I enjoyed the review and would like here to emphasize the work of two of the seven Dominicans considered in the book.  The Dominicans were from the Saulchoir Studium in Belgium which later moved to France.  Marrin’s review was comprehensive and covered all seven Dominicans whose theology provided the backbone for Vatican II.

   I would like to emphasize the work of Luis-Joseph Lebret, O.P., and Jacques Loew, O.P.  They had significant impact on Catholic Social Teaching concerning labor.

Luis-Joseph Lebret, O.P.

    The Vatican II document, Gaudium et Sp,s and the Paul VI Encyclical, Populorum Progressio, represent an important advance in Catholic Social Teaching.  Luis-Joseph Lebret had a determining influence on both documents.  He brought a world-wide economic perspective to Catholic Social teaching which is evident in Populorum Progressio. He deals with trade issues and neo-colonialism. 
   The corporate model of economics advocated by Catholic Social teaching was modified by Gaudium et Spes, declaring that workers had not only the right to organize but also to elect their own leaders.  Lebret insisted on reversing the top down approach to politics as practiced by communism, capitalism and fascism.

   The ‘worker priest’ movement was a result of Lebret’s experience- driven sociology and analysis.  ‘Justice for the worker’ – the people - was a key to achieve peace.  The age of anxiety of the 50’s and 60’s was the result of an apocalyptic challenge to humanity.  Lebret stated in his book Le Drame du Siecle first published in 1960:

People are now playing while atomic war or the revolution of the rest of the world threatens them with total extinction, invasion or occupation.  (English edition: The Last Revolution, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1965, p. 164)

Lebret understood the urgency of dialogue and the importance of Vatican II for the world.  Scanningco-author Paul Philibert states that the “voice and influence” of Lebret is clear in #83 of Gaudium et Spes:

If peace is to be established, the first condition is to root out those causes of discord between people which lead to wars especially injustice. (Scanning… p. 73) 
Peace through justice was the hope expressed by Vatican II.

Jacques Loew, O.P. (Religious name – Marie Reginald)

   Jacques Loew was ordained a priest in 1939 – the beginning year of WW II.  Loew was, like his mentor Lebret, a sociologist.  Both had background studying the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas in the Dominican Studium of Saulchoir.  The realism of the Aquinas tradition legitimized the study and practice of sociology for the solemnly dedicated religious.

   At Lebret’s suggestion, Loew went to Vichy-controlled Marseille in 1941 and became one of the first ‘worker priests.’  (Vichy – France deported thousands of Jews to extermination camps in Germany during WW II, Loew and Lebret thought if you want to understand the proletariat you had to be part of it.  Statistics were not sufficient.  Loew wrote:

Social mixing is a thing of the past: The teacher who instructs you, the doctor who prescribes for you, the priest who absolves you, all come from outside with their services or blessings. (M.R. Loew, Mission to the Poorest, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1950, p. 83)
  The ‘worker priest’ had to be involved in the union movement. But increased wages to “create a bourgeois worker would scarcely be a gain.” (Ibid. p. 118)  Education of workers was required. (‘Concientizaciรณn’ is the term used in Latin America)  Economic and political structures could and should be changed from the bottom up.  Like Lebret, Loew had a world vision.  Solidarity needed to be international.  He wrote:

The emancipation of the people by its own leaders has given birth to heroes, martyrs and saints.  Re-read the story of the Chicago martyrs, who in 1887 (actually 1886) originated May Day. (Ibid. p. 94) 

Remember by 1945, the date of the English translation of this book, May Day was labeled in the United States as a communist holiday.  In 1955 Pius XII inaugurated May 1st as the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker to counter May Day celebrations considered communist.  Loew continued:

Take up again the recently published letters of the militants – believers and atheists – shot during the Occupation (German occupation of France) … ‘There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (p. 94)   
He mentions the German occupation, the unity needed to fight the invaders, but what about the Jews?  There is nothing about the holocaust in the Scanning narrative which covers the WW II years.  The book reports that Yves Congar, O.P., a prisoner of the Germans during WW II and one of the seven covered in Scanning, contributed in writing the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which successfully fostered dialogue with non Christian religions – including Jews and Muslims but especially with Jews. (Scanning, p. 50)  Another of the seven Dominicans considered in Scanning was Marie-Alain Couturier who collaborated with the Jewish Artist Marc Chagall on the art work at a church, Notre Dame de Tout Grace, in Plateau d’Assy in the French Alps opposite Mt. Blanc. (Scanning. p. 130) 

   The ‘worker priest’ movement promoted by the Dominicans of Saulchoir was in dialogue with the world, even the communists, before Vatican II.  The attempt was to form a united front for justice to achieve peace. The backdrop of Vatican II was the Cuban missile crisis.  Dialogue did achieve a reprieve from nuclear destruction.  Pius XII squelched the ‘worker priest’ movement in 1953, but the momentum of the Saulchoir Dominicans was re-invigorated by John XXIII.   Vatican II was effective but, unfortunately limited.  The post Vatican II Roman Catholic Church did produce important documents on justice for workers and moved forward in dialogue with non-Christian religions, but did not succeed in moving forward in transforming the role of the priest. 

     Today, the Roman Catholic priest is a male with the magical power to physically bring a Roman Catholic Christ into our midst.  Only such priests have the ultimate authority in the Church.  Again we face a crisis of existence – France, Syria, Nigeria and the U.S.  A Roman Catholic hierarchy frozen in dogma will be of no help. Where will the momentum for dialogue originate?

                     Pre-Vatican II         Post-Vatican II

WORKER PRIEST                           HOCUS POCUS
Cartoon by Liam Gima Lange

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Working Catholic: Too Much Sentiment, Part I By Bill Droel

“A Christian worldview can exist in writing that is not necessarily Christian,” asserts Lisa Ohlen Harris in the February 2015 issue of a terrific evangelical publication, Books and Culture. Meanwhile, she continues, “our own [Christian] literature often lacks the bite and angst our worldview ought to embrace.”

Harris has in mind most of the novels in the “Spiritual” or “Christian Fiction” section of many bookstores—though there are not so many bookstores these days. She doesn’t like all the sweetness and sentimentality. “We do the same with Bible stories, sanitizing and simplifying them,” she says. “The story of Noah becomes a sweet means of counting by twos instead of a story of apocalypse.” Life, she reminds us, is not tidy. Most tensions are not resolved in a moment during which we “receive Christ” and shout “yes and amen.”  Indeed, many tensions are never totally over.

Harris draws upon a 1957 article by Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) that appeared in America magazine: “The Church and the Fiction Writer.”

“Sentimentality is an excess,” says O’Connor. It is “a distortion of [proper] sentiment, usually in the direction of an overemphasis on innocence.” Writers who traffic in sentimentality do not respect the limitations of their craft. Fiction can “reinforce our sense of the supernatural,” but only when it stays true to its nature and is grounded “in concrete observable reality.” Grace builds on nature.

Christian art does not need to overtly reference Christianity; in fact, the artist may not have Christianity in mind at all. God wants art with all its teeth.

What is true of artists is also true of those in crafts, in the trades, in education or in journalism. For example, high-quality bloggers who appeal to a Christian audience (perhaps like your Working Catholic writer) are not compelled to hammer home any Christian message, nor even mention religion as such. It is enough to report accurately on a human condition, to write thoroughly and to trust that an engaged reader will see some thread of the mystery of cross and resurrection in the report, if she or he is so disposed. Puff and fluff, sugar and cinnamon, banal pleasantries and hallow compliments, or noble intentions and laying it on thick—all undermine what their purveyors presumably think they are accomplishing.  

Of course, cultural comment like in this column makes generalities. There are complexities and exceptions. But the flood of sweetness in our culture, albeit sincere, is ruining our public life.

Why does sentiment appear where it doesn’t belong? Why is it a common default position? What are its side effects? What can be done? To be continued…

Droel edits INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a newsletter about faith and work.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


   When we were in Guatemala last spring we visited a group called NISQUA a U.S. NGO that accompanies court witnesses as international protectors from assassination.  I asked the NISQUA representative about the cause of violence and repression in Guatemala expecting she would say – capitalism.  No – without hesitation she said – RACISM!   Racism can pervert any system or political – economic structure.  Racism in the U.S. is different than in other countries in the Americas, but at its core it is the same.  It is the refusal to grant the status brothers and sisters to certain people because of color and/or social class. The Jewish Bible calls them the ‘anawim.’  Today it’s the low wage workers – the unemployed – the indigenous – immigrants and African Americans shot and killed by police and neighborhood lawlessness.

   A popular Christmas tale is the story of the Three Kings found in the Gospel of Matthew. (Mt. C. 2)    The author of Matthew attempts to adjust the Jewish messiah myth and refer it to Jesus.  Jesus is presented as a special child born in poverty but a king destined to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.  He will be called out of Egypt as stated in Jewish Scripture.   The homilist at our San Francisco parish, before a packed church of over500 of the faithful, noted that the story is metaphorical but pointed to the truth of the story which is a matter of Faith.  The kingdom of non violent peace is here for all but only insofar as we are people of good will.  That means people of Faith committed to bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven – not just Christians but all people for all people.  Our homilist exuded the ‘Joy of the Gospel.’

    But Matthew’s story relates that King Herod slaughtered all the children in Bethlehem under two years old to protect his position in the Roman Imperium which promises the ‘Pax Romana’ to the world but through violence.  We’ve moved to Roman Imperial horror.  It was easily dismissed by our San Francisco homilist with a short comment – then, after all it is just a story.  But what does it remember?  What does it point to?

   If you relate the gospel story to the current news cycle, the slaughter of innocent children is present in full force especially in Milwaukee but also in San Francisco.  The sound of Rachel crying is clear once again.

“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In R’ama there was a voice heard in lamentation and weeping and great mourning.  Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted for they were no more.” (Mt. C. v. 17-18)

    We have to ask why and what are we going to do about it?  Faith includes imagination and commitment.  A beginning would be an all inclusive discussion by Faith communities about racism with a goal of stopping the political, economic and military violence against God’s chosen ones – the ‘anawim.’  The joy of the Gospel is in co-creating the Kingdom of Heaven despite the opposition of the seeming ever present Imperium.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Working Catholic: Workers’ Participation by Bill Droel

Catholicism opposes collectivist or state-controlled economic approaches. At the same time it opposes an unregulated market and rejects magical economics, as implied in metaphors like rising tide, invisible hand and trickle down. Throughout the industrial era and now in our post-industrial times, Catholicism draws upon its principles of participation and subsidiarity to advocate for an occupational order or solidarism. This concept is known in France as corporatism, in Belgium it is called delegates for personnel or in Germany it is co-determinism or works councils. In the United States Catholicism translated solidarism as industry council plan. (When I say Catholicism, I mean that Catholic doctrine includes economic principles. That doctrine is derived from Scripture, natural law and experience and it is available to all people of good will. However, I admit that few Catholics have ever heard about their social doctrine.)

Tom Geoghegan argues for an occupational order in his latest book, Only One Thing Can Save Us (The New Press, 2014). He draws upon the successful German economy and thus uses their terms: co-determined boards and works councils. In a previous book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? (The New Press, 2010), Geoghegan mentions the Catholic influence on the German model; though in this latest book he leaves out that connection.

Members of a company’s works council are elected from among shareholders and employees. Shareholders always are in the majority and a shareholder is always the chair. In Europe the employee members belong to a union, but this union factor is not essential to the solidarism model. A works council is more than an employee suggestion committee; it has some authority. The council is not involved in setting wages, pensions, health benefits and the like. It concentrates on day-to-day operations like scheduling, departmental flow and improvements to the production process or to delivery of services. The result is a more motivated workforce with lower levels of discontent. Of course, not every works council is perfect. However, the standard model of company directors detached from the actual work space is, as the economic collapse of 2008 amply taught us, flawed in practice and, says Catholicism, flawed in theory.

Geoghegan is not observing our scene from a reclining chair. He can be seen every day in a Chicago courtroom, a neighborhood luncheonette, a train station, a union hall, a community theater or a church basement. Geoghegan is aligned with many causes and charities around our city. His book seeks something that relieves government of some regulatory impulses yet at the same time something that puts brake shoes on ragged laissez faire capitalism. It comes wrapped with several provocative ideas:

§  That under proper conditions unions might be better off not representing everyone in a workplace.
§  That a college degree may not be the ideal for most young adults if our economy remains as it is.
§  That nurses are uniquely poised to make our economy more inclusive.
§  That credit card consumption cannot possibly lift our economy absent a prevailing wage for all families.
§  That the Chicago Teachers Union is a positive influence (a topic of controversy around my city).
§  That clumps of fast food workers and others who walk off the job for a short time put meaningful pressure on the Democratic Party and, to a degree, the Republican Party to address family life issues.

Geoghegan loves our country and its legal, economic, political and educational systems. His ideas are the subject for a subsequent Working Catholic column.

Droel edits INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a newsletter about faith and work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014



   It was a long time ago but I remember as a kid listening to passionate discussions about politics and labor at the family Christmas celebration.  The men would retire to the kitchen to do their part and wash the dishes after a sumptuous meal prepared by my grandmother assisted by dutiful aunts.  The discussion in the kitchen was loud and contentious but my grandmother would not allow vulgar language or racial epithets while we kids were within range.  They were union men, class-conscious, and well aware that union activity made sumptuous meals possible for the family.  We were Roman Catholic and my Dad, for one, knew of the social encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI that supported unions. 

   Perhaps this is why it is so painful for me to realize that support for unions by the hierarchy and by liberal Church faithful is minimal.  How is it possible that liberal Roman Catholic publications such as Commonweal and NCR do not use Union printers?  Contemporary Catholics are more educated than the men in my grandmother’s kitchen so they probably feel above the struggle for just wages and an effective voice for labor.   But I do sense some guilt in laity, priests, bishops who have risen to a status above their immigrant fore-bearers and who ignore the crucial importance of labor unions.

   There is an excuse – not valid – but it’s there.  It goes back to the disputes between Paul and Jesus’ brother, James the Just.  Those Catholics that do not support unions could claim, but not legitimately, a ‘Pauline Privilege’ as a balm for the conscience.  

   When Christianity was a fringe sect of Judaism, Paul after a vigorous discussions with James and Peter, was able to get an agreement that gentiles could become part of the community without adhering to Jewish dietary laws and circumcision.  But another dispute, over faith and works was unresolved and appears in the letters of the self-designated Apostle Paul and James, Jesus brother, not an Apostle but a leader in the Christian community of Jerusalem.  

   Paul and James had different backgrounds.  Paul was from the Roman city of Tarsus and was well educated.  He spoke Hebrew and Greek and has been categorized as a ‘Hellenistic Jew.”  James the Just, Jesus’ brother, was from impoverished Galilee, was probably illiterate and probably spoke only Aramaic. Paul was more of an idealist and James a pragmatist.  Their differing views provide a tension that lasts to this day in the Christian community.  Both are considered Christian martyrs.  Paul was killed in Rome and James in Jerusalem.

   Justification by faith was key to Paul’s theology.  He wrote in his Epistle to the Romans, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Romans, 5:1)  Balm for the conscience, don’t worry about labor unions. 

   In response James the Just wrote,

          If a brother of sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the    day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works is dead.’ (James, 2:15-17)

    Joanne and I host the family Christmas celebration this year.  I will make a point of saying that the just wages our parents fought for through the union movement made our ‘sumptuous’ dinner possible.  However, the ever growing income gap and the well financed anti union movement make it seem that history is in reverse.  But low income and immigrant workers are on the march.  Those of us who have benefited from the union movement need to join the battle once again.  Prayers to James the Just wouldn’t hurt.    

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Working Catholic: Service Projects by Bill Droel

Milwaukee's St. Ben's Community Meal, guest and volunteer.

This is a sign of the times: Thousands of Catholic young adults now participate in service projects and even in a year-long volunteer corps. These volunteer opportunities are not only offered through Catholic schools, religious orders and agencies. Other denominations and secular institutions also have service projects in which Catholics serve along with others. Volunteerism is hardly new in our country, though service requirements in school, mission trips in college and post-grad volunteer corps are recent developments—at least in their current scope. In the old days young adults more or less sought out volunteer opportunities on their own, for mixed motives: to change society, to learn from a charismatic leader, or (in my case anyway) to meet women. Today’s young adults, their program leaders and the service agencies are all to be applauded.

Michael Laskey of Camden, writing in U.S. Catholic (11/14), wonders though if “the default approach [to young adult volunteering] is out of whack.” He is all for service but, he asks, how many young adults really form a relationship with those they serve? Like most North Americans, Laskey admits to a “preference for the quick fix.” Volunteering often becomes a one-way effort to get the job done, Laskey finds. Do young adult volunteers, he concludes, ever “confront any suffering or ask difficult questions about the world” or about themselves? 

Celebrating 20 years of service
                             CapCorps Midwest Volunteers celebrating 20 tears of volunteerism

At one time Laskey’s own forays into volunteerism were premised on tackling “solutions to injustices.” He came to think that maybe it is better to “start with relationships.” His acquired approach, he says, seems more in harmony with Pope Francis’ themes of going to the peripheries to build “a culture of encounter.”

“Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world,” writes Pope Francis. “Often it is better simply to slow down, put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others.”

Francis intends to encourage people and so admits that some might feel “offended by my words.” Yet, he continues, the dominant culture likes “the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional.” Christian service, by contrast, should first be about encounter—not “simply an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need, a kind of charity a la carte.” And second, it should “make an impact on society” by “working to eliminate structural causes of poverty.”

Marquette University's Service Learning Program
It is hard to create bridging relationships, says Paul Lichterman in Elusive Togetherness (Princeton University Press, 2005), his case study of nine volunteer and advocacy projects that explores the tension between lending-a-hand service and partnering.  The less fortunate can seem inscrutable, Lichterman admits. So the best-intentioned volunteers often proceed with partial understanding, unconcerned with the larger map of the culture and civic world around the needy. The volunteers complete the task, yet have loose connections to the less fortunate and even to one another—not only in direct service projects but in policy campaigns, like for example those concerned with a living wage or with eliminating trafficking.

Service Learning
Service learning project at Mount Mary University, Milwaukee

Young adult volunteering is a marvelous development. Its graduates are included in the powerful 2%. But their project leaders and the young adults might reflect on their experience with an eye toward the public arts of encounter: How will this experience carry over into my career and family life? Does this experience, perhaps in synergy with Catholic tradition, suggest any principles that can be used on my job or in my own culture? And did I develop an appropriate public friendship with my fellow volunteers and those we tried to serve?

Droel is editor of INITIATIVES, a newsletter about faith and work. Get INITIATIVES and Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis’ fuller thoughts on a culture of encounter, from National Center for the Laity (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $10 pre-paid).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


   Vatican II provided hope and was successful in contributing towards the avoidance of a nuclear holocaust, however, war and rampant injustice continued at a rate more intense than any other time in history.  The Roman Catholic Church suffered divisions and the demarcation lines are difficult to trace.

   The NCR story begins in October of 1964.  The anniversary issue notes important stories of the NCR over the past 50 years. The editorial states:

If this booklet tells a history, it isn’t the history of a newspaper; it is the history of the American Catholic Church over the last 50 years.  

In my opinion there were some important omissions, but overall NCR does a good job.  U.S. American Roman Catholics are much better informed because of the NCR and are in a better position to advocate reform for justice and peace beyond Vatican II.  My criterion for comments on the anniversary issue is – the focus on social justice through non violence in reference to the alienated – including labor and the poor.  I will refer to the social encyclicals plus official church documents promulgated by bishop’s conferences which advocate structural change to serve all.

   The first edition of NCR (10-28-64) noted the promulgation of ‘Lumen Gentium,’ ‘the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.’   The document began with a discourse on the ‘people of God’ and that the Spirit dwelt in them, but also reaffirmed Vatican I and the ultimate authority of the Pope and hierarchy in communion with the Pope.  This was a bait and switch document which few recognized including the NCR.  Hierarchical exclusivity is an important cause of the pedophile scandal, but escapes analysis even in the NCR.

    During its fifty years NCR provided valuable information on the civil wars in Central America and the struggle for justice in all of Latin America.  Correspondents Gary MacEoin and Penny Lernoux deserve special credit and should get notice for their in depth reporting.

   It is on record thanks to NCR!  The anniversary issue reports on the 1979 Latin American Bishops’ conference in Puebla, Mexico.  The article emphasizes two crucial points. 

1 – Pope John Paul II endorsed liberation theology and the recent deliberations of the Latin American Episcopal Conference.
2 – During their Jan. 27th –Feb. 13 meeting, the Latin American bishops, caretakers of the only institution with sufficient power to speak out in a continent dominated by repressive military regimes, issued documents on the church’s priority commitment to the poor, religious life, and the economic and political realities of Latin Americas. (p. 20.)

But the first official church statement on ‘preferential option for the poor’ is from the 1968 conference in Medellin, Columbia; the conference is not mentioned in the anniversary issue.
   The NCR anniversary issue noted the church martyrs in Latin America but did not cite Medellin as a cause.  NCR correspondent, Penny Lernoux wrote in her book –Cry of the People:  

Medellin was a red flag waving them into action…Priests formed left-wing organizations in seven countries, some doing so in open support of radical parties or governments. (Penny Lernoux, The Cry of the People, Penguin, 1991, p.43.)

However, those martyred were for the most part not members of any political party or group but involved in pastoral care – ‘preferential option for the poor.’  Such ministry was and is considered political.  The anniversary issue cites the four Church women in El Salvador and others.

   The anniversary issue did not cite the revolutionary ‘preferential option for the poor’ proclaimed by the Medellin document, but also left out the first time it was mentioned in a Papal document – Sollicitudo Socialis Rei.  There was an editorial about Sollictudo Sociali Rei in March of 1988 emphasizing the Encyclical’s fundamental concern for the environment.  The editorial opens:

Sollicitudo Socialis Rei, Pope John Paul II latest encyclical, will be remembered as the church’s first encyclical on ecology.”  Sollicitudo Socialis Rei is mentioned in the anniversary issue with the headline: “Superpowers target of the encyclical’s wrath.”

   Coverage of the radical encyclical Laborem Exercens was not mentioned in the anniversary issue.  Neither did the special issue commemorating John Paul II which underplays his social encyclicals. (NCR, 4-15-2005)  Did ‘liberal’ church concerns super-cede labor issues for NCR?  Laborem Exercens stating that “labor unions are indispensible” and “labor is prior to capital” might be too much for a publication that uses a non union printer.

   On the other hand the NCR covers the important Latin American story better than any other publication concerning the massive migration of unaccompanied children to the United States. Sadly it is not noted that the Honduran papal adviser, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, supported a military ‘golpe del estado’ in 2009, and the ‘golpe’ further militarized Honduras increasing the violence in Honduras which is now seen as an important cause of the children migrating.

   NCR covered in depth major Catholic events in its 50 years such as income inequality, the pedophile scandal, women’s ordination, the church and homosexuality, racial equality and environmental concerns. NCR covered the Father Groppi marches in Milwaukee for fair housing, but the controversy on racism continues. Groppi exposed the tip of the iceberg.

   The peace movement, countering the horrible wars in Vietnam, Central America and the Middle East, was covered better by the NCR than any other publication. NCR took a stance against the wars.  Immigration reform was given comprehensive consideration with the exception of the New Sanctuary Movement. The anniversary edition notes some of these stories.  An NCR article authored by former Sandanista government official, Xabier Gorostiaga, S.J. in 1995 was one of the first articles in any paper or magazine on the growing gap in income at the end of the 20th century, a gap that has continued to widen.  There was no mention of this article in the anniversary issue.

   A photo of Dorothy Day stands out in the anniversary issue. (October 27, 1972-October 19, 1973)  The caption reads:

Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day, seated on a golf chair, faces law officers as she talks to fellow protesters in the United Farm Workers picket line in July 1973.  Day ultimately was arrested, along with 3,000 striking farm workers and supporters, including 60 priests, nuns and brothers.


The anniversary issue (’95 -,’96) notes that NCR was sued for 30 million dollars by Briggs & Stratton, Milwaukee for an article claiming  that Briggs’ executives were defying Catholic Social principles in their treatment of workers.

‘Editor Tom Fox called the lawsuit an attempt by Briggs & Stratton to muzzle its critics and to intimidate the press.’ 

It was a slap suit and was thrown out of court in 1998.  But did the slap suit, in fact, intimidate the press? 

   If anything, faith demands authenticity.  Both publications, Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter combined 140 years advocating for social justice is compromised with the probability that neither uses union printers.