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Catholic Action was the name of many groups of lay Catholics who were attempting to encourage a Catholic influence on society.

They were especially active in the nineteenth century in historically Catholic countries that fell under anti-clerical regimes such as Italy, Bavaria, France and Belgium.

Catholic Action is not a political party, although in many times and places this distinction became blurred. Since the World War II the concept has often been eclipsed by Christian Democrat parties that were organised to combat Communist parties in places such as Italy and West Germanymarker.


A Catholic Action group was active in Australia, called "The Movement" and later the National Civic Council, under B.A. Santamaria. They were active in the Australian Labor Party, but were expelled by more left wing elements and went on to form the Democratic Labor Party.


In Chile Catholic Action was the name of a nationwide youth movement. Under the aegis of Saint Alberto Hurtado it was responsible for the founding of the Chilean Trade Union Association.


Azione Cattolica is probably the most active Catholic Action group still around today. Catholic Action was particularly well suited to Italy where Catholic party political action was impractical firstly under the Anti-Clerical Savoyard regime from 1870 until about 1910 and later under the Fascist regime which prohibited independent political parties. The present association Azione Cattolica was founded in 1867 by Mario Fani and Giovanni Acquaderni with the name of Società della Gioventù Cattolica Italiana (Italian Catholic Youth Society), then reformed during the Mussolini regime when the association was structured into 4 sectors and was called Azione Cattolica.

Catholic Action in other countries

Catholic Action was organised in many other countries, including:

See also

Notes and References

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