Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dreadful Conversions: The Making of a Catholic Socialist

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dreadful Conversions: The Making of a Catholic Socialist

Article excerpt

Dreadful Conversions: The Making of a Catholic Socialist. By John C. Cort. (New York: Fordham University Press. 2003. Pp. xvi, 355. $30.00.)

We are lucky to have this memoir from John Cort. Born in 1913, Cort has been fighting the good fight for a very long time. After converting to Catholicism while at Harvard (!), he joined the Catholic Worker movement and played an important role in the founding of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists (ACTU). he then was managing editor of The Labor Leader-during which time he also covered labor for Commonweal-and served as business agent for the Boston Newspaper GuUd during the 1950's. Having "burned out" there, Cort went to work for the Peace Corps in the Philippines and afterwards ran anti-poverty programs in Massachusetts. Through all this, he faced endless challenges to his refusal to disconnect his social activism and Catholicism.

Cort's"second conversion," as he puts it, was to socialism.As the danger of communism decreased and (apparently) influenced by the turmoil of the I960's, he increasingly came to see the "convergence" of socialism and Catholicism. After joining Michael Harrington's Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in the 1970's, Cort helped found its Religion and Socialism Committee and served as long-time editor of its newsletter, Religious Socialism. One result of all this was the writing of Christian Socialism (1988).

This, of course, is not all there has been to Cort's life. he spent about five and a half years-intermittently from 1938 to 1950-flat on his back with tuberculosis. In 1946 he married Helen Haye, whom he had met while doing ACTU work; they had ten children. …

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