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Hugh McElwain Addresses Concept of Civil Disobedience in Chicago Catholic

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hugh McElwain, theology professor emeritus, was quoted in a Chicago Catholic article about the July 7 protest led by Father Michael Pfleger which shut down the northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway between 79th and 67the streets. Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church, led the peaceful protest of 1,000 people to bring attention to the issue of gun violence on the south and west sides of Chicago and to urge the city to provide better education and jobs for young people in those neighborhoods.

Writer Joyce Duriga used McElwain as a resource for the July 9 article, based on his personal experience with civil disobedience. McElwain participated in acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and marched with Martin Luther King. He advised that Catholics have historically led these efforts because their faith and Catholic social teaching moves them to do something radical to call attention to those who are suffering.

"You do it and accept the consequences, hoping that the attention that you draw to the situation might change the mind of society," he said.

"I always tell people that Gandhi was assassinated. Jesus was crucified. Martin Luther King was assassinated. You have to be convinced that the injustice you are protesting against means more than the injustice of the inconvenience you are causing for an hour or so."

You can read the entire article and see photos taken by Natalie Battaglia at the protest here.