Catholic social teaching (CST) is the church’s best-kept secret.” That is a common complaint among progressives, Catholic or otherwise, who lament the eclipse of the church’s antipoverty, pro-labor, and community development emphases by a narrowly defined politics- of-life agenda over the past four decades. It is also something I hear regularly at the University of Notre Dame, where I teach US labor history, introducing students each semester to CST’s critique of unbridled capitalism, support for the dignity of work and those who perform it, and endorsement of the rights of workers to participate fully in their economic lives. My colleagues and I at Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns (CSC), the heart of community-based engagement at this Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, are doing our best to make sure CST is a secret no more.

I direct the CSC’s Higgins...

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