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 FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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FATHER COUGHLIN

Coughlin as a boyCharles Edward Coughlin, 1891-1979, (pronounced coglin) was born the only child of third-generation Irish immigrants to the North America on October 25, 1891, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Upon being graduated from St Michael's College at the University of Toronto, Coughlin went on to study at the St Basil's Seminary in Toronto, where he was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1916. Near the end teaching stint at Assumption College (of Ontario) between the years of 1916 and 1923, Father Coughlin met Bishop Michael Gallagher. Their relationship began while sharing a train ride to Detroit, but it would last a lifetime. The Bishop, eager to start a church in the Detroit area in homage to Saint Therese of Lisieux (known as "the Little Flower," and canonized in 1926), announced in April, 1926 that Father Coughlin would open the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Michigan (Warren 8-17).

Shrine of the Little Flower When Father Coughlin hit the radio airwaves as a part of the Shrine's ministry in October, 1926, his message was Catholic in nature and intended for children. By the early 1930s, Coughlin saw  much joblessness and insecurity in the Detroit area and, thus, his radio messages and public speaking became adult-oriented and focused on social reform, with an emphasis on the distribution of wealth in the nation. His ideas on the distribution of wealth, or rather the re-distribution of wealth, were heavily influenced by the social reforms suggested by the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum Rerum Novarum (1891), and the encyclical of Pope Pious XI, Quadragesimo Anno Quadragesimo Anno (1931). Specifically, Pope Leo XIII addressed the distribution of wealth:

Pope Leo XIIISuch was the ardor of brotherly love among the earliest Christians that numbers of those who were in better circumstances despoiled themselves of their possessions in order to relieve their brethren; whence "'neither was there any one needy among them.'"[quotation from Acts 4:34] (Vatican 2)





And, in 1931, Pope Pius XI expanded on Leo's point:

Pope Pius XITo each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice (Vatican 1).


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