A Great Lakes Colleges Association initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Catholic Workers Movement

Project Statement

The Catholic Worker Movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The aim of the movement is “to live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ.” On the Catholic Worker website, the meaning of this statement is expanded upon: “When we examine society, which is generally called capitalist… and is bourgeois… we find it far from God’s justice.” The movement has been considered an anarchist-pacifist effort and has long been allied with other radical social movements and organizations such as Occupy Wall Street and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Many of the efforts within the movement are focused on the operation of communal houses and farms. Catholic Worker Houses aim to provide food, shelter, medical care, and other services and resources. The guests at these houses are often undocumented immigrants unable to receive government welfare.  


This project documents the diversity in interpretations of the Catholic Worker Movement aims. There are long standing conflicts and disagreements within the Catholic community over certain social and political issues such as abortion and LGBT rights. While the Catechism forbids abortion at any stage as an act of murder, and the Catholic Church has often opposed LGBT rights, many lay Catholics are pro-choice and support LGBT rights. As inclusivity and intersectionality become increasingly important in modern radical social movements, I have documented how workers in the Catholic Worker Movement approach these conflicts of interest. This research is intended to provide insight to the successes and downfalls of religion-centered, leftist political activism.

Written by

Adam Green is a 2019 Graduate of environmental science and conservation. He has interests in environmental conservation, research, outdoor recreation, and education.

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