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. Only one of the many worker advocates whose story makes up the meat of this book attained international recognition in the Catholic world. That was the founder of the JOC (Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne), Jozef Cardinal Cardijn. But the combined efforts of those involved in the Catholic labor movements, despite the inevitable infighting, persisted through generations marked by Fascist and Nazi domination, by the Great Depression, the Second World War and the Cold War. The protagonists and historians of these movements documented their struggles, and Misner now synthesizes this wealth of information, presented country by country, and interprets the development of labor movements across Europe. A comprehensive bibliography of sources adds greatly to the volume, enhancing its value as a reference. In combination with other factors, such as the American Marshall Plan which fueled the "economic miracle" of the 1950s, Christian labor unions contributed their part to the distinctive "social capitalism" of Europe. The basic commitment to democratic rule, combined with the fading of the anti-religious ideology of the social democratic unions and parties, encouraged a merging of the rival union confederations in the countries of the European Community. With its unique resources and heritage, and now in a pluralistic setting, Christian labor strengthened the shared call for social justice and the common good.
"… the best single book in English covering its material… Misner's is an important contribution to our knowledge and grasp of Catholic social and labor movements in Europe from 1914 through 1965. It is a scholar's book…"~John A. Coleman, SJ - St Ignatius Parish, San Francisco, Theological Studies
"This scholarly book, which includes extensive multi-language bibliographical references, covers an important aspect of Catholic social teaching."~B.S. Exton, CHOICE
"Misner weaves together the history of Christian labor organizations across Continental Europe from 1914 through 1965… What makes this book truly shine is Misner's mapping of the shifts within the Church to wider social and cultural changes and his analysis of the place of the 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, in labor history. Any academic library that supports curricula related to labor and/or religious history should include this book in its collection."~Paula S. Kiser, Catholic Library World
"Many have waited for this second volume… the best single book in English covering it material… M.'s is an important contribution to our knowledge and grasp of Catholic social and labor movements in Europe from 1914 through 1965. It is a scholar's book."~John Coleman, St Ignatius Parish, San Francisco, Theological Studies
"Scholars of twentieth-century Catholicism have long been awaiting this volume, the follow-up to the respected and essential Social Catholicism in Europe: From the Onset of Industrialization to the First World War (New York, 1991)… the book is a success: no other volume brings together so many forms of twentieth-century Catholic activism into one analytical frame, and Misner is a sure-footed guide through complex terrain. This is clearly the work of a master historian who has spent many years pondering these issues, and Catholic Labor Movements in Europe is a worthy successor to Misner's earlier work. It will be indispensable to students of Catholic thought and politics in twentieth-century Europe."~James Chappel, Duke U, Journal of Modern History
"This is therefore a story which matters and one which he presents very effectively, in a series of largely chronological chapters which criss-cross the territories of the western half of Europe from the Low Countries, to Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. His approach is sympathetic, though certainly not uncritically so: he deomstrates the engagement of the more reactionary elements of Social Catholicism with the various authoritarian and corporastist projects of the 1930s and 1940s, but he emphasizes also how the ideas and institutions of Social Catholicism were predominantly a force for good, contributiong to processes of social emancipation, welfare provision, internationalism, and the achievement of an enhanced econmic and political democracy."~Conway, Martin, The Catholic historical Review