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Catholic Workers' Circle

Catholic Workers' Circle

The Catholic Workers' Circle (Círculo Católico de Obreros de Montevideo) was founded on 21 June 1885, by Juan O'Neill and Luis Pedro Lenguas, who modeled it on those created by the Spanish bishop José María de Urquinaona y Bidot in the Canary Islands and later in Barcelona. The Uruguayan diocese in Montevideo had been established only in 1878. Urquinaona corresponded with O'Neill and Lenguas and explained to them how the circles worked. The Circle of Montevideo, like similar organizations in Spain and Latin America, followed the social teaching of the Catholic Church and later founded regional centers throughout the country. In a relationship sometimes known as Christian Syndicalism, rural labor organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church came to have sizable influence. Having begun with 600 members, the circle increased its membership considerably in later years. The circle was a labor organization designed to protect workers according to the teachings of the church; however, it provided more services than a regular labor organization, among them medical services in its own hospital, a legal aid office, and other charitable services. Its membership included employers and conservative professionals as well as workers; hence, it offered more conservative solutions to social problems than those of radical labor. In fact, it was created, like many other Catholic organizations, to provide an alternative to the radical labor ideas that appeared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

See alsoCatholic Action; Leo XIII, Pope.


Círculo Católico de Obreros de Montevideo (1936).

Additional Bibliography

Pou Ferrari, Ricardo, and Fernando Mañé Garzón. Luis Pedro Lenguas (1862–1932): Maestro de cirujanos y precursor de la doctrina social católica en Uruguay. Montevideo: El Toboso, 2005.

Zubillaga, Carlos, and Mario Cayota. Cristianos y cambio social en el Uruguay de la modernización, 1896–1919. Montevideo: Centro Latinoamericano de Economía Humana: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 1988.

                                    Juan Manuel PÉrez

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