Loading
César Chávez hailed as model for Catholics in public life
Dr. Christopher Shannon
Dr. Christopher Shannon

.- The late labor activist César Chávez offers Catholics a model for faithful and effective civic engagement, according to a professor of history at Christendom College. 

In his April 16 essay for Crisis Magazine, “The Passion of César Chávez,” Dr. Christopher Shannon claims that the United Farm Workers leader was “the last Catholic in America” to achieve a “cultural/political synthesis” that brought the Church's social teaching into the public square.

The union organizer, Shannon says, contributed to the development of “an authentic Catholic politics,” because of his ability “to speak a common language with non-Catholics” while trying to “lead them … to a fuller understanding of a distinctly Catholic position open to people of good will.”

While Chávez's birthday on March 31 is a civic holiday in some states, he is also controversial in some quarters of the labor movement.

This discomfort over Chávez's legacy, Shannon notes, is partly due to the Catholic activist's decision to bring his faith to bear in disputes over issues like wages and working conditions.

“As a Catholic school boy in the 1970s, I was taught to see Chávez as a kind of Catholic Martin Luther King, a great national figure that we could call our own,” he recalls.

But according to the Christendom College professor, even “self-styled 'progressive' Catholics” have largely “forgotten” Chávez – preferring “issues of race, gender and sexuality” to his struggle on behalf of farm workers, which drew heavily from Catholic social teaching.

“The secular Left, in turn,” he writes, “has long had trouble with Chávez precisely because he was an orthodox Catholic and refused to allow his movement to be co-opted by Marxist ideology or the neo-pagan identity politics of the Chicano movement.”

In the Crisis essay, Shannon details the ways in which Chávez used Catholic ideas and practices – such as pilgrimages, fasts, and Marian devotion – to focus the nation's attention on concerns that were not “sectarian,” but universal.

Shannon notes that “while speaking for a largely Mexican Catholic constituency,” the union leader “was also trying to speak to a broader American public.”

His message, meanwhile, was that of Pope Leo XIII – who called on Catholics, and non-Catholics, to “protect the workers from the greed of speculators who use human beings as instruments to provide themselves with money.”

Shannon suggests that Catholics who feel “politically adrift” can look to Chávez's achievements for guidance on making the Church's social concerns known to the world.

His essay can be read in full at http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-passion-of-cesar-chavez.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: