"San Francisco Monitor" Letters to the Editor

priest interviewed.jpg

An unidentified priest is interviewed while wearing buttons in support of United Farm Workers Lettuce Boycott, c. 1970s.

Courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.


In addition to the conflict between labor and management, the Delano grape strike also provided a fascinating look at inter-Catholic conflict in the area. A series of letters to the editor in July 1966 editions of the Diocese of San Francisco’s newspaper Monitor are a prime example of this tension due to the strike.

In early July, letters from Chester M. Bruszewski and Katherine Cesare took issue with an article that had been written earlier by Father James Vizzard, S.J., with both claiming that he misrepresented the facts of the strike, focusing on those taking part instead of the hardships that afflicted so many in the area because of the strike, and claiming that Vizzard was more interested in creating tensions than peace. “How can he expect us to have a peaceful settlement if he feeds the tension with more fuel?” asked Bruszewski. Cesare also argued against federal legislation to assist workers and instead asked that states take care of their own issues. As a Catholic, Cesare also spoke of concern for priests becoming involved in civic issues. “Doesn’t anyone believe in the separation of Church and state?”

These arguments did not go unanswered, as the Monitor carried rebuttals soon after. Letters from John F. Leet and Peter A. Bacich castigated Cesare for labeling the farm workers as Communists and questioning whether the Catholic Church had the right to become involved in the strike, with Leet complaining that as a Catholic he was “tired of this kind of arrogant threat to my Church.” Bacich added that Cesare’s letter “smack[ed] of self-righteousness and exhibit a gross misunderstanding of Christian witness in the world.”

Monitor letters.pdf

San Francisco Monitor letters 
Courtesy of ACUA

The letters make clear that members of the Church were not always aligned on the same side in debates about civil issues.



1. What do different Catholic points of views show us about the state of the laity immediately following Vatican II in the U.S. ?