Catholic Social Teaching and the CUAB: 1930–1939

  • Clifford Williamson
Part of the Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000 book series (HISASE)


Although the idea of a Catholic Federation failed to get off the ground, the Catholic Union was for the rest of the 1930s involved in arguably the most concerted Catholic social action in the United Kingdom through the Advisory Bureaux set up in 1931. The CUAG was to bring the direct messages of Pius XI and Leo XIII to the lives of many Catholics, and provide a mechanism that could unite the most affluent and professional Catholics with the poorest and most disadvantaged of their co-religionists. The impact of the Catholic Union of the Archdiocese of Glasgow Advisory Bureaux (CUAB) was considerable though it has remained a neglected topic for study. The CUAB barely gets a mention in Tom Gallagher’s major study of Catholic and Protestant relations Glasgow, the Uneasy Peace. Where most historians have tended to discuss the Catholic Social Guild (CSG) or abortive attempts at a Catholic Trades Union movement and Catholic political parties in Great Britain in the 1930s, both the CUAB and the WCF have largely escaped the notice of scholars. The CUAB, which was arguably more representative of the spirit of Catholic social teaching, as laid down by the Vatican, is often ignored. The scale of the work of the CUAB was unprecedented: it operated throughout the large Archdiocese of Glasgow, and by its own estimation it had dealt with over 10,000 inquiries annually. The activity ranged from helping local people to complete applications for public assistance, to representing them in the highest Scottish courts. There were, at various times, between 20 and 50 different parishes operating individual advice centres. Irrespective of the considerable number of individuals helped by the Advisory Bureaux, the functions and workings of the organisation give an insight into the dynamics of social Catholicism, its aims and objectives both in an internal and external context.


Trade Union Social Study Communist Party Advisory Bureau Public Assistance 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifford Williamson
    • 1
  1. 1.Bath Spa UniversityBathUK

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