The spring semester begins with my individual research paper, which will be submitted and presented at the 2019 Ramonat Seminar in April. Over winter break, I established several goals for myself and my project. I look forward to sharing my preliminary progress thus far regarding my project about the American response to the controversial 1968 document Humanae Vitae.
My idea began with an examination of my own Catholic family. My maternal grandparents are traditional Catholic Republicans, while my paternal grandmother identifies as a Democrat because of her Polish Catholic upbringing. This divided state of my family mirrors our findings from last semester; the Catholic vote no longer exists– because like the rest of the nation, Catholics are both Republican and Democratic. Based on class discussions from last semester, I intend to include both liberal and conservative political dialogues of Humanae Vitae in my paper.
Humanae Vitae, released by Pope Paul VI in 1968, was an encyclical most known for its renunciation of artificial birth control. Yet Vatican II (1959) encouraged social change through human dignity, at the same time as the Anti-War, Women’s Movement, and Civil Rights Movements. To begin, I plan to discuss the contradictions and oppositions between Humanae Vitae and Vatican II to set the scene for my main research.
Predominantly, I will use primary documents from the Loyola and Mundelein College newspapers to show the youth’s interactions and responses to Humanae Vitae and the Sexual Revolution. In addition, I hope to gain access to newspapers from surrounding Catholic universities in the Chicago area. I predict that students would have written articles opposing restrictions on birth control based on the political dialogue of 1968. At the same time, I expect to find articles from young traditionalists who support the Pope’s authority on the matter. I will also look into the impact of student organizations, such as Loyola’s Students for Reproductive Justice.
In conclusion, I am confident that I will find an array of useful sources and areas to research in the coming weeks as I begin to narrow down my topic. I am determined to include a multitude of perspectives in my paper because it has become apparent to me that Catholics in America hold pluralistic opinions on matters like birth control. I think that it would be important to focus on the perspectives of the students because of their influence on social justice in 1968. While I do not have a specific research question yet, my goal in weeks ahead is to illustrate the role of progressive and conservative students in the debate surrounding Humanae Vitae.
How would you react if a couple of friendly nuns approached you on the street and asked if you were happy? This week, class convened at the Gene Siskel theater downtown to view the 1968 film Inquiring Nuns. Directed by Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner, the documentary followed Sister Marie Arné and Sister Mary Campion around Chicago as they randomly approached strangers and asked if they were happy and why. The film sounds simple enough, yet the diverse responses and the overall setting made for a complex and thought-provoking artifact of the time. Inquiring Nuns demonstrated past class themes of Catholic Anti-War sentiments and Chicago in 1968.
The opening interview indicated the majority of the responses that the nuns heard throughout the city. The first young couple expressed that they were not happy with the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, and subsequent people responded similarly in the film. Quinn and Temaner truly captured Chicago at the perfect moment in the months following the Democratic National Convention. As discussed at the Global ’68 Symposium and seen in the film Medium Cool, Chicago of 1968 represented the chaotic and violent police action on Anti-War and Civil Rights protesters.
1968 was equally significant for Catholics because of the implications of Vatican II, which inspired the Catholic Left to join the Anti-War cause. In his article, scholar James McCartin confirmed that under Vatican II, the Church became a “vehicle through which they advanced some of the most defining elements of American culture, including the ubiquitous appeal for popular participation and democracy” (McCartin 10). This semester, I learned about Father Daniel Berrigan’s leadership in the Catholic Left with his involvement in the Catonsville Nine. Though his actions were very radical, Vatican II seemed to support the movement. The filmshowed how Catholics took on more political stances based on their religion as the nuns approached people leaving Church in the Loop. Vatican II and the general tensions of 1968 enabled Catholics to speak their minds about the war in Vietnam.
InquiringNuns showed an intersection of race and class when the nuns filmed outside of a predominantly African American parish after mass. Immediately, it was obvious that the parish was better-off than other segregated South Side parishes, like Saint Sabina. The majority of wealthy husbands and wives replied that they were happy because of their financial stability and healthy family. These families were unlike last week’s reading on the projects of Trumbull Park, where low-income black families were discriminated against by whites and treated as “intruders” (Hirsch 531). Rather than analyzing the inequalities in segregated Chicago, the film depicted upward mobility in Catholic African Americans.
Inquiring Nuns symbolized Chicago in 1968 with its forum of happiness in the age of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements. I do not think the film would have worked in any other city or any other year. The setting, the characters, and the film techniques all embodied the mindsets of Chicago in 1968. What would happen if we tried this 50 years later? Are you happy?
This week, in combination with our assigned readings, I searched through Mundelein College’s Women and Leadership Archives for a primary source regarding Catholics and the Welfare State. Historically, Catholics provided public services for those in need before FDR’s New Deal or LBJ’s Great Society. For example, Catholic Charities (which I visited during Open House Chicago) was one of the few orphanages in the Loop, established in 1881. In the archives, I found an insightful speech from Sister Patricia Crowley about her charity, Deborah’s Place, that represented local problems in the welfare system.
Crowley was a fierce activist for the poor and disadvantaged throughout her years as a Benedictine nun in Chicago. Her speech, delivered to Elmhurst College in 1998, told a story about a women’s transitional housing facility in the process of relocating to the northern neighborhood of Lakeview, not far from Loyola’s campus. A local parish offered its empty convent to Crowley’s organization, but a powerful neighborhood association worked to overrule their efforts. Crowley described this group as exhibiting a xenophobic “Not in My Backyard Syndrome.” Regardless, the church was eventually able to open its doors to the charity because of its supporters, who received over 4,000 signatures on their grassroots petition. Crowley concluded her panel by emphasizing the need for community building in the face of the nation’s growing “affluenza.” The photo above shows her finale, wherein she encouraged the audience to seek immediate action when confronted with adversity.
I think that Crowley’s speech stressed pertinent topics from this semester; principally, local politics and gaps in the American welfare system. The relocation of Deborah’s Place was an extremely local issue that would have resulted in the homelessness of over twenty women if Catholic community members had not protested the neighborhood zoning board. Crowley advised that building community is not a linear task, rather it is “circular and cyclical. The process requires us to keep giving each other another chance and it challenges us to the art of reconciliation with each other.” Moreover, this situation exhibited the phrase ‘all politics is local’ because of how it reflected broader questions of welfare in the 1990s and in the past.
Though Crowley’s speech was only 20 years ago, it outlined recurring stigmas regarding welfare and charity in the United States. In his article, “Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953-1966,” Arnold Hirsch described how Chicago struggled to overcome segregation in government-funded housing projects, due to a racialized ‘Not in My Backyard’ way of thinking. Essentially, the Chicago Housing Authority failed to integrate fifteen black families into Trumbull Park, and consequently, African Americans were “harassed day and night” (Hirsch 527) while in their own homes. Similarly, Crowley had to overcome resistance from the Lakeview area in establishing a haven for troubled young women.
The ongoing need for and reliance on Catholic charities, like Deborah’s Place, suggests that federal and state welfare are insufficient in resolving poverty in America. Most urban areas are divided by income and race or ethnicity, seen in the North and South sides of Chicago. But Crowley’s speech exposed how Northern neighborhoods of Lakeview were unaccepting of outside groups with a goal to provide assistance to the poor. Finally, I think the speech related to our discussions of Catholics and their role in building political institutions.
Crowley, Patricia. “If Not Now, When? If Not You and I, Who?” Presentation for Elmhurst College.
Hirsch, Arnold R. “Massive Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago,
1953-1966.” The Journal of American History, vol. 82, no. 2, 1995, pp. 522–550.
This week, I searched through the archives for a relevant primary source that addresses the difficulties of Catholic politicians running for president. In his piece, published by the New York Times in 1960, Leo Egan compares the presidential campaigns of Governor Al Smith and Senator John F. Kennedy.
Both men were Catholics, but religious tolerance from 1928 to 1960 changed over time. As I learned this semester’s topic of immigration, 1920s politics was an era of direct discrimination of Catholics. For instance, 1925 was the year in which the Ku Klux Klan revived itself and marched on Washington D.C. in hatred of African Americans, Jews, and Catholics. Similarly, Smith faced accusations of collaborating with Tammany Hall because of his religion. Egan states that Kennedy’s anti-Catholicism was masked by critics of his commitment to “ending racial discrimination in the South.” In essence, religious discrimination of Kennedy was hidden by conservative ideologies while Smith’s pundits were more open about fear of Vatican influence on American democracy. Furthermore, Egan mentions the Marshall-Smith correspondence published by the Atlantic Monthly, which we read for class. The article attempted to defame Smith as a candidate, claiming that if elected, the Roman Catholic Church would undermine American democracy.
Another variation between Smith and Kennedy is how Kennedy showed no reluctance in addressing his Catholicism “head-on,” while Smith apparently avoided religious debate during his campaign. In fact, Kennedy faced scrutiny from the Catholic Church for his Look Magazine interview in which he explained that religion is explicitly part of his private life, not his political life. The American Catholic media reactions of his statements ranged from being a “dangerous secularist, a Protestant appeaser or a spokesman for dialogue” (Sarbaugh 56). The New York Times, however, supported Kennedy’s actions as a nominee because he learned from Smith’s mistakes.
The conclusion of the article suggests that Kennedy’s Catholicism benefitted his platform in “states where there are large Catholic populations.” Nevertheless, the political cartoon portrays Kennedy struggling with religious bigotry in Southern states. In summary, this article lays out a useful discussion of how two Catholic candidates were forced to respond to voter stigma about their religion.
Egan, Leo “CATHOLICISM: Unlike Smith, Kennedy Seeks to Handle Issue by Meeting it Head on.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Sep 18, 1960. ProQuest.
Sarbaugh, Timothy J. “Champion or Betrayer of His Own Kind: Presidential Politics and John F. Kennedy’s ‘LOOK’ Interview.” American Catholic Historical Society, 1995, pp. 55–70.
This week was a momentous time for the nation as the midterm elections moved upon Americans, allowing voters to change the political system for the first time since the 2016 election. As an 18-year-old, I felt obligated to go out for my first time and let my voice be heard. Along with the religiously unaffiliated and other religious groups, Catholics made their presence known in the election. On Wednesday, the class attended the panel “Behind the Tweets” to unpack the results from the election.
My first impression regarding the Catholic vote is that it seemed to stay the same, whereas Catholics were divided by major parties and key issues. Professor Michael Murphy began the roundtable discussion by stating that Catholics are a swing vote. In some cases, such as the 2016 election, Catholics align with the Republican Party. In this year’s midterms, Catholics swung Democratically, however, the margin was very slight as Figure 1 shows that 49 percent of Catholics voted Republican. Dr. Murphy elaborated that Catholics are transient voters because one cannot find salvation in a singular political party. In recent years, it seems like Americans seek religiosity from politics. In his article in The Catholic World Report, Dr. Samuel Gregg emphasizes the need to desacralize politics as to prevent party members from demonizing each other. Moreover, the first week of class, we talked about the rise of religious nones and the deinstitutionalizations of younger generations. The consequence of less trust in historical institutions such as unions or religions means that people may idolize politics as a religion.
Another factor to consider regarding the role of Catholics in the midterms is the implication of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is one of the five Catholics on the bench, but his controversial confirmation earlier this fall resulted in serious consequences for certain state elections. Most experts predicted that the Kavanaugh confirmation would motivate widespread support for Democrats. In a pre-midterm poll from Politico, Democrats seemed energized by the fight against Kavanaugh as 36 percent of voters would vote against Senators who confirmed him. In contrast, Professor O’Brien noted exit polls in which voters say they voted against Democratic candidates, such as North Dakota’s incumbent Heidi Heitkamp, to stand in solidarity with Brett Kavanaugh. Catholic Vote is one of the largest Political Action Committees for conservative Catholics. The site’s campaign ‘Catholics for Kavanaugh’ offered supporters to sign a petition that reads:
The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh is for me a litmus test. Every Catholic voter I know will be watching this process closely. Scrutiny of Judge Kavanaugh’s Catholic faith will not be tolerated. Together with millions of my fellow Catholics, I urge you to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh this fall, prior to the November elections.
FedUp, another PAC, released a video to garner support for the Republicans against the Democratic politicians who led efforts against Kavanaugh. Essentially, Catholic-Republican PACs used Brett Kavanaugh as a device to reawaken the passion and rage from the trial. Evidently, the narrative was somewhat effective in holding a Republican majority in the Senate, according to O’Brien.
The Latino vote is a significant source of the Catholic vote that should be carefully considered amidst the Trump administration’s immigration policies. An article from the Catholic news outlet The Crux illustrates how the 2018 midterms show two distinct Catholic churches, one being white and affluent and the other being Hispanic and poor. John Allen Jr., the editor for the online magazine, explains how the overall Catholic vote increased 2 percentage points since four years ago, likely because of a higher turnout among Latinos. Nonetheless, voting data suggests a growing gap between white Catholics leaning Republican and Catholic minorities voting Democratic.
At the roundtable, there was a discussion of whether or not the midterms were influenced by President Trump’s anti-immigrant language leading up to the election. Instilling fear and fervor into his base using the caravan and challenging birth-right citizenship, it begs the question of whether not Latinos were influenced by the demeaning dialogue. Furthermore, Latinos made up 11 percent of the electorate, and a majority of 63 percent voted Democratic. The Trump administration has revitalized their political engagement, as Figure 3 proves an increase in engagement and enthusiasm since 2016. Additionally, the surge in the Latino vote may be critical to the 2020 election, as DallasNews claims that Hispanic voters could turn the state blue if they can reorganize after Beto O’Rourke’s loss. Despite Ted Cruz’s reelection, Texan Latinos helped to elect the state’s first two Latinas into the House. Prospectively, I feel that Democratic Latino-Catholics have great potential to diversify and change the political landscape in response to xenophobic immigration policies.
For Catholics, the abortion agenda has been consistently prominent on Election Day since Roe v Wade. Professor Stephen Millies writes in the introduction to his book that “the US Catholic Bishops will remain important figures in the story of the road that leads from Roe to the election of Donald Trump”(xviii). Earlier this semester, we read about how American bishops are quick to criticize Trump policies but will not directly advise voters. According to the article, one reason for the silence is because conservative bishops and liberal bishops cannot agree on debates like abortion and gay marriage. As my last post mentions, some congregations and Bishops reject the Vatican’s more progressive leadership under Pope Francis. At the panel, Dr. O’Brien predicted that a Catholic majority Supreme Court would likely not result in appealing Roe. Rather, the Court would allow for restrictions and state jurisdiction on access to abortion. Indeed, in the midterms, Oregon, West Virginia, and Alabama all passed laws limiting funding for abortion. In an article for the Washington Post, Peter Steinfels voices that Democrats like him who are anti-abortion can identify as a liberal. Steinfels comments, “those who oppose abortion have their own moral reasons for looking beyond near-term abortion right advocates’ victories and throwing themselves into a blue wave.” Democratic Catholics can be pro-life, but they must make a tradeoff by supporting pro-choice politicians.
Catholics were not necessarily instrumental this year in electing a Democratic House majority and maintaining a Republican Senate majority. Throughout the semester, I have recognized that the role of Catholics in modern politics reflects how the entire nation is divided by party and ideology, thus the Catholic vote is not unique from the electorate. Historically, Catholics wielded power from the election of other Catholics, such as Mayor Daley in Chicago or President Kennedy. I think that under the right circumstances, the Latino Catholics can emulate Irish-Catholic elections in 2020 to gain leverage over anti-immigration laws and become accepted in American life.
Figure 1: Geiger, Abigail. “How Religious Groups Voted in the Midterm Elections.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center.
Figures 2 and 3: Kent, David. “Hispanic Voters More Engaged in 2018 than in Previous Midterms.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 2 Nov. 2018.
Since the first week of class, my peers and I have been working around the history of the Catholic vote. Like most historical concepts, the answer is complex and increasingly difficult to navigate. I feel like most of this semester has focused on the Catholic Left, with pieces of the Catholic Right inevitably peeking through. Broadly, I have discerned that early Catholic immigrants made up the Democratic base. Then, the Catholic ‘white ethnics‘ were accepted by nativists in the postwar years and looked to the Republican Party. This week, the class ventured to the University of Chicago campus to hear from Professor Stephen Millies about his new book Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ Road from Roe to Trump. Millies offers a perceptive history of the Catholic vote since Roe v. Wade in 1973, a landmark case that has defined many Catholics and Christians into one-issue voters. At the same time, our readings from class show the emergence of conservative Catholics before the Roe decision.
Colleen Doody’s Detroit’s Cold War resonated with me because of my Polish heritage based in Detroit. My grandmother grew up in the parochial schools in the Polish neighborhood of Hamtramck during the Cold War. She now opposes the Catholic Church and identifies as a Floridian Democrat. Doody gave me the much-needed context that explains why my grandmother may feel this way. In the 1930s, Hamtramck was divided between Leftist Poles who unionized and Polish priests who suggested unions were Communist organizations (81). As the Cold War heated up after World War II, anti-Communism became popularized in the United States, especially for Polish immigrants who felt persecuted by the Soviet Union. Communism was portrayed by the Church as the “fertile soil of secularism,”(84) which contributed to the rise of traditionalism. Conservatism united Polish-Americans through block rosaries and the celebration of Saint Mary’s Day on May Day. What bothered my grandmother about Catholicism, besides the strict nuns, was how the traditionalists opposed scientific ideas and urged women back into their roles as housewives (87). Doody’s analysis of Detroit during the Cold War was intriguing because it allowed me to recognize Hamtramck as a personal example of conservative Catholic politics.
Another way to view how Catholics supported conservative policies before Roe is through presidential candidacies. Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump all used conservative ideologies that directly spoke to Republican Catholics. At the panel, Millies attributed Pat Buchanan, Republican presidential nominee in 1992 and 1996, as the first Trumpist. Buchanan also served the administrations of Nixon and Reagan, equally prominent conservative policy-makers. Earlier in the semester, we read about how Nixon’s New Majority sought to “[attack] the left within the labor movement” (Cowie 270). By manipulating unions to which many blue-collar Catholics belonged, Nixon built a new Republican coalition. President Trump used a similar strategy in the 2016 campaign trail with laborers in the coal industry, appealing to the White Majority.
As discussed in class, Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964 was quite monumental. Goldwater won six states, perhaps because he was the “first candidate since Hoover about whom conservatives could feel enthusiastic” (Allitt 36). Goldwater, also known as Mr. Conservative, ran on a platform of anti-Communism. In a 1964 article published by the New Yorker, Richard H. Rovere followed Goldwater for a week and observed that:
In Goldwater circles, an Easterner is guilty until he proves himself innocent. There is no longer any need to identify a liberal with Communism; it is quite bad enough if he is a “liberal,” and doubly bad if he is an “Eastern liberal.”
Goldwater is often viewed as a shock to the nation for proving himself as a real competitor as an extremist backed by the Republican Party. Goldwater’s campaign on anti-Communism related with Cold War Catholics, such as those in Hamtramck who feared the Iron Curtain and hoped for democracy to reclaim dominance.
Ronald Reagan was a crucial supporter of Goldwater, “giving mild-mannered voice to an ideologically supercharged theme” (Allitt 36). Seventeen years later, Reagan would win the presidential election and implement Goldwater policies into American life. An article from earlier this semester, “Carter, Catholics, and the Politics of the Family,” reveals how President Carter was defeated by Reagan in the race for reelection. Unlike Carter, Reagan “spoke openly of his faith and openly opposed ERA, gay rights, and abortion” (Flippen 49). Carter, on the other hand, was inconsistent because he tried to please conservatives and liberals alike on pressing topics like abortion (38).
Essentially, the commonality between Nixon, Reagan, and Goldwater is how they were able to identify fundamental policies for Catholics based on the political climate and take a tenacious stance to build a reliable base. Similarly, Millies argues in the introduction to his book that “Catholics played an important part in the growing, destructive divisiveness of American political life that made Trump’s nomination and election possible” (Millies xvi).
Furthermore, Catholic media outlets were crucial to the distribution of conservatism. In Detroit, the Michigan Catholic faithfully condemned communism. During World War II, the Michigan Catholic criticized Soviet presence in Poland while mainstream American media “shied away from anti-Soviet articles” (Doody 80). In various editorials, the Church was also depicted as the protector of Western civilization. As a result, the local Catholic press helped “fracture the previously united Slavic community in the Detroit area at the end of the war” (81).
On a more national level, William F. Buckley was a strong force in establishing a New Conservative media outlet. In 1955, Buckley founded the National Review, which staffed a large amount of Catholics from its beginnings (Allitt 19). The National Review was vehemently anti-Communist, daring to criticize Pope John XXIII’s 1961 encyclical for not articulating Communism into his emphasis on poor nations (28). This echoes Catholics today who reject Pope Francis for his more liberal Catholic Social Teachings. In his conclusion, Allitt describes the New Conservatives as a “fringe political group,” (36) yet I feel that the impact of right-wing popular media has held a lasting legacy into 2018. Fox News and the existing National Review have informed conservative Catholics about politics for decades. Moreover, the media and its effect on the electorate has only heightened since 2016 and the era of ‘fake news.’
I agree with Millies’ statement at the panel that the decision to legalize abortion made many conservative Catholics feel lost between their American and Catholic identities. Millies further explained that Roe was a fracture point for immigrants after winning acceptance during the Cold War. Consequently, some Catholics have prioritized abortion so much that they “have made political calculations for many years, all of which have aimed at something good but that now has culminated in the election of Donald Trump” (xviii). In my opinion, opponents of Roe are products of New Conservatism and traditionalism beginning in the 1930s. With a majority of Catholics on the bench of the Supreme Court, it may be possible for Roe to be reconsidered. Political Scientist William Blake proves that Catholic justices closely adhere to teachings of the Catholic Church, which may influence the rulings of certain moral decisions. Scalia denied religion influencing his stance on abortion, but it would be “impossible for a judge to suppress her or his values completely” (814). Summarily, Catholicism’s role in politics spans from voters to lawmakers to the judicial system.
To conclude, the Catholic vote is divided according to many factors, with ideology being of central importance. Historically, conservatism attracted Catholics because of anti-Communist political leaders. The Catholic media was instrumental in spreading conservative content and ideas to the public. The build-up to the Roe decision included figures like Barry Goldwater, who reshaped the image of the GOP. The age of Democratic Catholic immigrants faded with the rise of populism and modern politics. I think that the Catholic vote is far more complicated than just looking at the Left and the Right, but it is a good place to start. I look forward to exploring more on my own as I begin to find my own sources as the semester proceeds.
Allitt, Mark. “American Catholics and the New Conservatism of the 1950s.” U.S. Catholic Historian, vol. 7, no. 1, 1988, pp. 15–37.
Blake, William. “God Save This Honorable Court: Religion as a Source of Judicial Policy Preferences.” Political Research Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 4, Dec. 2012, pp. 814–826.
Cowie, Jefferson (2002) Nixon’s Class Struggle: Romancing the New Right Worker, 1969- 1973, Labor History, 43:3, 257-283.
Doody, Colleen. “Anti-Communism and Catholicism in Cold-War Detroit.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.
Flippen, J Brooks. “Carter, Catholics, and the Politics of Family.” American Catholic Historical Society, vol. 123, no. 3, 2012, pp. 27–51.
Millies, Stephen. Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ from Roe to Trump.2018.
Rovere, Richard H. “The Goldwater Campaign.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 1964.
This week honored the 50th anniversary of a remarkable year in global history. By attending The Hank Center’s Symposium Days of Past Present of 1968, I listened to a variety of scholars about groups worldwide and their reaction to perceived inequalities and lack of freedom. Leaving the Symposium, I considered whether or not the legacies of 1968 were effective, and the role of Catholics as protesters in Chicago and worldwide.
The 1960s were an important time for women because of Second Wave Feminism and women were joining men on the streets to protest. Second Wave Feminism is the term for post-war female liberation in the family, at work, and in popular culture. In 1964, Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to Congress for the state of Hawaii. As Professor Judy Wu articulated in her panel, Mink was anti-war, pro-environment, and the spearhead of Title IX that widened the rights of women in education. She refused to be called a liberal by the mainstream, she preferred to be known as a radical for her time. As for Catholic women, 1968 had its limits. The Catholic panel revealed that there was both a need and a failure for sex and gender reforms in the Church. Professor Susan Ross came of age in 1968, and she recounted her grandmother and mother’s reaction to Humanae Vitae. Humanae Vitae was issued by Pope Paul VI and reasserted that artificial contraception was not allowed by the Church. Ross said that there were women like her mother who obeyed these orders, or women like her grandmother who questioned the Church’s role in married life. Humanae Vitae seemed like a disappointment to most women after the Vatican II promises of social justice. In her article, Marian Mollin explains that women involved in liberal Catholic anti-Vietnam demonstrations also felt disappointed by the lack of inclusion by the Berrigan brothers. As told in a former blog post, Daniel Berrigan is known for his anti-Vietnam demonstration with the Catonsville Nine. The Berrigans used masculinity to recruit members of their inner-circle, which “blocked the ability of women to participate in the movement as true equals to men” (Mollin 51). Women from the Catholic Left eventually separated themselves from the Berrigans with their own civil disobedience, like the Women Against Daddy Warbucks (45). Anne Walsh, an active member in Catholic feminism, remembers that male leaders of the Catholic Left supported Women Against Daddy Warbucks, but “privately viewed and treated the women as the enemy” (46). Eventually, the Catholic Left stopped funding all-female groups and shut them out (46). Like journalist Kenneth Woodward said at the Berrigan Week panel, Daniel Berrigan had faults in his philosophy of ‘walk with me or walk against me,’ and revolutionary women were viewed as the enemy. There was a lack of unity in the Catholic Left concerning gender and reproductive rights; consequently, women felt they had no voice. On the other hand, women nation-wide were joining political conversations, which was a crucial step forward for feminists.
In his article, “The Family, the Gospel, and the Catholic Worker,” Daniel McKanan expresses how Catholic organizations emphasized family life and living out the Gospel in the 1960s. The postwar Catholic Worker movement diverged from Dorothy Day’s philosophy that “the Worker movement was good and necessary and that families were good and necessary but that neither one required the other” (McKannan 163). By contrast, Workers redefined the movement by focusing on family houses where Catholics extended hospitality and liturgical values to the poor and the surrounding community. The shift from individual to family and community was brought on by Vatican II and a document entitled “Apostolate of the Laity” (164). I think that the redefining of the Catholic Worker movement mirrored the social movements of 1968. The Civil Rights movement and anti-Vietnam protests were guided by the concept of solidarity rather than the needs of the individual. Indeed, Catholic Worker families were often involved in Vietnam protests, one example is how “Dave and Kathy Miller started Saint James Catholic Worker House shortly before Dave’s trial for draft card burning” (159). Like most institutions, the Catholic Worker Movement reshaped its mission due to Vatican II and pressure from ongoing 1968 leftist thinking.
At the panel on “Resistance and Riots, Murders and Martyrs,” Professor Kathleen
Belew argued that conservative groups are often overlooked by historians during the pinnacle of 1968 liberalism. Belew describes how white power mobilized in 1968 as men returned from Vietnam and brought the war and violence home with them. In this way, white power groups unified into a bloc and incorporated military uniforms into their neo-Nazi culture. Mainly, the Vietnam War was divisive because it shaped both left and right social movements. White power remains influenced by 1968 since military uniforms are worn by today’s generation of white nationalists. In Professor Fidelis’ panel, she presents Eastern Europe and the Second World during 1968. Leftist students organized under the group Club of Seekers of Contradictions and published magazines inspired by the Western popular press. At a rally in March of 1968, the students were met by the police who allowed civilians of the Worker party to beat the students with clubs. The Polish students were eventually arrested and suppressed by government officials. Additionally, in France, one usually thinks of the swarm of communist students on May Day. In reality, conservatives organized pro-de Gaulle protests that challenged youth calls for reform. Essentially, the narrative that left-wing politics reigned in 1968 is not true because of the agendas of right-wing groups that allowed for the election of Richard Nixon.
What makes Chicago unique from other cities in 1968? My blog from last week ponders how local politics in Chicago was distinct. Chicago in 1968; however, follows a global theme of political action met by reluctant politicians. The protests outside of the Democratic National Convention led to violent police force on 10,000 Yippies. The Yippies are the name for young men and women who protested the war and racism while the Democratic Party convened for the election. The protesters were forced out of the stockyards on the side of the convention center, and tear gas and physical violence were used by police under the order of Mayor Daley, an Irish-Catholic himself. Undoubtedly, the Convention is important to Chicago politics because it is looked back as a failure of Mayor Daley to keep the peace. Chicago-born historian James Barrett writes about his experience growing up Catholic with a Chicago police officer as a father. Barrett was deeply interested in Vatican II social justice and joined the Catholic Interracial Council in addition to the anti-war movement (20). While Barrett attended rallies and found his political voice, his father was arresting those same protestors (20). As Barrett illustrates, young Catholics like him made Chicago distinct in 1968 because they were the product of Vatican II. In conclusion, Chicago in 1968 was unique because of the Catholic influence, although Yippies were similar to existing social movements in the United States.
After hearing from a range of scholars this week, there is a sense that 1968 was exceptional. As the keynote speaker Professor Bourg stated, it is the year that historians continually memorialize decade after decade for bringing people together politically. I admit that it was a monumental year, but as I noted at the concluding panel with Loyola students from the past and present, there are lessons to be learned from 1968. I think that fifty years later, there are valid criticisms of the era that need to be considered for the successes of modern social justice movements. Contrary to the 1968 Olympic slogan, it was not a year of peace. It was a period of confrontation within liberalism and conservatism across the globe. If my generation wants to reverse social inequalities, we must look to 1968 for its faults. For instance, Catholicism in 1968 offers its mistakes and its triumphs with the opportunity of Vatican II and the limitation of Humanae Vitae. Overall, 1968 was a tumultuous and pivotal year that gave me insight into how to view history in the lens of the present.
Photos 1, 2, & 6 taken by Allison Lapinski.
Barrett, James. The Blessed Virgin Made Me a Socialist Historian. 2017.
Grossman, Ron. “The Whole World Was Watching: How the Tribune Reported the 1968 Democratic Convention.” Chicagotribune.com, 24 Aug. 2018.
McKanan, Daniel. “The Family, the Gospel, and the Catholic Worker.” The Journal of Religion, vol. 87, no. 2, Apr. 2007, pp. 153–182.
Mollin, Marian. “Communities of Resistance: Women and the Catholic Left of the Late 1960s.” The Oxford Historical Journal, vol. 31, no. 2, 2004, pp. 29–51.