The ILO, the Holy See and Catholic milieus in Africa and Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s

Universalism, social justice and development
By Aurélien Zaragori

Using the example of Latin America and Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, the aim is to examine the fresh convergence between Catholic milieus and the International Labour Office (ILO) around an updated conception of social justice. These decades saw a doctrinal aggiornamento, involving certain milieus with close ties to the ILO, culminating in Vatican II, then the publication of the Populorum Progressio encyclical. On the ground level, collaborations took shape between Catholic stakeholders and development experts sent by the ILO. At the same time, African and Latin American Catholic representatives had growing influence in the ILO’s bodies. However, towards the end of this period, criticism arose of the ILO, which was deemed too timid, and of the support that the Church apparently gave it.

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