Francesco Tacchi

Is Striking a Sin? The Catholic Judgement on the Moral Permissibility of Strike Action Considered in Relation to the German-speaking Area (1889-1914)

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This paper reconstructs the debate on the moral legitimacy of strike action within German-speaking Catholicism in the decades between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. To this end, it first examines the reflections of Catholic moral theologians. In German Kaiserreich, the intra-Catholic discussion on this topic was quite lively because of the socalled Gewerkschaftsstreit (“trade union controversyµ), which at the beginning of the 20th century saw two different schools of thought in harsh opposition to one other. The discussion focuses especially on the Meliorationsstreik, i.e. the protest aimed at obtaining wage improvements. In spite of the negative description of strikes in the encyclical Rerum novarum (1891), the possibility of Meliorationsstreik was generally accepted in Catholic culture, although serious concerns about it were raised.


  • Strike
  • Moral theology
  • German Catholicism
  • Gewerkschaftsstreit
  • Jesuits


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