Sacred and the Secular in Catholic Activism: An Analysis of the “Justice for Immigrants” Campaign by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops




Duckwitz, Mary Jo Lopez

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This thesis discusses the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s ( or USCCB) civic engagement as a means to understand the secular and sacred in Catholic activism. In order to better comprehend the religious engagement in political and social issues, this thesis examines the Post Vatican II Catholic civic action and engagement by the USCCB in regards to immigration reform. However, before the case study analysis can be rendered, there must be a historical examination of religion’s role in American politics. Therefore, the first half of the thesis is dedicated to three historical religious-civil factors. The first historical factor is the creation of the First Amendment. The second historical factor of importance is the Civil Rights movement. Lastly, there is an analysis of the Second Vatican Council’s influence on American Catholicism. All three events legitimate the current civic engagement of the USCCB. Thus, this thesis argues that that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, with its religious and secular components, is an essential and necessary element in the transformative movement of immigrant rights. This thesis serves as a reference for those who want to understand the role of religion in affecting societal change and reform in American society. Additionally, this study adds to the academic dialogue of what the USCCB brings to the immigration debate that secular organizations cannot.



Religion, Politics, Secular, Sacred, Catholicism, Bishops