Catholic Activism How Religious Identity Shaped College Peace and Anti-ROTC Movements in Philadelphia

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Lauren Michele De Angelis


abstract: This article traces the emergence of activism on two Catholic campuses in Philadelphia during the Vietnam War: St. Joseph’s College and La Salle College. Unlike previous histories relating to campus protests, the article connects participants’ Catholic beliefs to their activism. Although affiliated with different religious orders, both of these colleges embraced Vatican II reforms, which engendered dialogue in their communities, allowed lay professors a more prominent voice, and created a debate on war and violence in the modern world. In academic communities where religion was deeply entrenched, students, faculty, and staff formed their antiwar debates around core Catholic doctrines. The importance of religion when initiating social change is underscored by analyzing newspapers, speeches and events on their respective campuses.

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