Bishops say Cesar Chavez film shows Catholic social justice

Michael Peña portrays Chavez in the new film

Several bishops have praised “Cesar Chavez,” a new movie about the labor rights leader and devout Catholic, for its portrayal of a man whom they say embodied the ideals of Catholic social justice.

“This fine film shows a man of deep faith who struggled against injustice using the spiritual weapons of nonviolence, prayer and fasting,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said March 14.

“Cesar Chavez” is distributed by Pantelion Films and Participant Media, and is set for a March 28 general release. It played at The Berlin Film Festival and won the audience award for narrative film at the South by Southwest film festival earlier this month.

The Arizona-born Chavez grew up in a family who lost their business and land during the Great Depression, moving to California to become migrant farmworkers.

Chavez, a father of eight, organized agricultural workers to advocate for better labor protections and higher wages by means of protests, strikes, and boycotts.

His protests frequently featured Catholic elements, including praying the rosary as well as images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He also incorporated fasting into his efforts to draw attention to the plight of laborers.

He successfully organized tens of thousands of workers as members of the United Farm Workers union.

Archbishop Gomez said March 16 that Chavez “was a man of prayer and man of peace. Learning about his life tells me that he had a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and that he tried to live the Beatitudes in his daily life.”

The film depicts his early years as a labor organizer, including his launch of a massive boycott of grapes picked by non-union workers. The film dramatizes his conflicts with President Richard Nixon and then-California governor Ronald Reagan, as well as his 300-mile protest march from Delano to Sacramento.

Michael Peña plays Chavez, while America Ferrera plays his wife Helen. Labor organizer Dolores Huerta is played by Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich plays Bogdanovich, a vineyard owner opposed to Chavez’s work who is himself an immigrant from Europe.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said he has always considered Chavez a prophet of non-violence who preached and exemplified “the best in Catholic social justice and American civil rights.”

He called the film a “fine movie” that “only confirmed that high estimate.”

Fr. Greg Boyle, founder and director of the Los Angeles-based gang member rehabilitation program Homeboy Industries, said the movie will “galvanize a new generation” to embrace the fight for “justice and equality.”

“Cesar Chavez lived as though the truth were true and took seriously what Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King took seriously: the way of non-violence. This film shows the way.”

Archbishop Gomez hoped that the film may “inspire us to continue Cesar’s work until all our brothers and sisters are able to live with the dignity that God intends for them.”

At a recent conference in Anaheim, Bishop Edward Clark, an auxiliary of the Los Angeles archdiocese, said the film “is going to be a wonderful opportunity for us to unite around issues very important for our Catholic community,” while his fellow auxiliary, Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, said that seeing the film will be an opportunity “to be inspired by this great man and his love for the people and the Church.”

And Fr. James Martin, editor at large for “America,” noted “how much I respect and honor Cesar Chavez and all the wonderul work he did, and this new film is a terrific testimony to his life.”


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

February 14, 2016

  • Sunday, February 14

    Mother Cabrini Library and Chapel Open House, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3801 Scott Road, Burbank. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Region.

     

    Italian Catholic Club of SCV Valentine's Day Dinner Dance, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Parish Hall), 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Come enjoy a delicious gourmet buffet dinner and dance the night away to the music of Linda Pippin. Wear your favorite red dress, shirt and/or tie. All adults (single or married) are welcome. Tickets are $35 each (prepaid), or $45 at the door. Please call Anna Riggs at (661) 645-7877 to reserve your spot by Feb. 10.

     

    Stations of the Cross, 2 p.m. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles. Continuing each Sunday of Lent. For more info, please call Calvary Cemetery: 323-261-3106.

     

    Year of Mercy Mass and Pilgrimage in The Shrine of St. John Paul II, 3 p.m., Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, 3424 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles.  Mass celebrated in English with Fr. John Paul Gonzalez of Christ the King Church.  Mass will be followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession, with Divine Mercy Chaplet.  The closing prayer will be a blessing and veneration of the 1st class relic of St. John Paul II.  

    South Bay Catholic Co-ed Adult Softball League Pre-Season Practice Games, McMaster Park, 3624 Artesia Blvd., Torrance.  Must RSVP to Fred Lawler (League Commissioner) at (310) 504-0271 or fredlawler@hotmail.com.

Get our news by email

Bob Smith BMW 300x250
Bob Smith Toyota 300x250
Bob Smith Mini 300x250