César Chávez, the Catholic Bishops, and the Farmworkers' Struggle for Social Justice

Next to Martin Luther King Jr., César Chávez was the most important Christian social activist in recent American history. His commitment to nonviolence lent moral credibility to his leadership of the farmworkers movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Since Chávez was a Catholic, Marco Prouty asks: What was the connection between the Catholic bishops and the social-justice aspirations of Mexican-Americans during the civil rights era? The answer is disappointing for advocates of social justice. Notwithstanding the large body of Catholic social teaching and despite the determined efforts of Monsignor George G. Higgins (the main hero of Prouty’s book), much of the hierarchy of the church remained socially conservative and was reluctant to support Chávez and the farmworkers in their strikes and boycotts.


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