Many often identified the Catholic Church with the cause of labor and worker’s rights in the United States. However that was not the common situation encountered by laborers throughout most of the nineteenth century. The proclamation of the social encyclicals: Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) and Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931) elevated the status of the worker, endorsed worker associations and placed the Catholic Church as an advocate of worker’s rights. But for the worker to clearly understand this change as well as his rights and duties education was vital. For workers in Pennsylvania, especially in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the formation of Catholic labor schools was the catalysis for education and guidance in labor-management issues. Eventually their programs expanded to include anti-communist instruction.

This paper examines the historical narrative of the Catholic labor schools in Pennsylvania and the curricula and policies developed mutually by the laity and clergy to educate workers (both Catholic and non-Catholic) about their rights and duties and how to apply Christian social teachings in the workplace. These schools became a fundamental part of the labor movement where Catholic labor education endeavored to build a Christian partnership of labor and management to ensure industrial democracy.



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