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Hallelujah! The Conservative Catholic Hierarchy Taps an American Anarchist for Sainthood

Religion

One week after the presidential election, the Catholic bishops of the United States unanimously endorsed a female anarchist for sainthood. That news is not quite as shocking as it seems. Dorothy Day’s anarchism was of a decidedly pious kind. In 1927, at the age of thirty, she turned away from the secular leftism of her youth and was baptized in the Church, a moment she later confessed she had been waiting for all her life.

Hallelujah! The Conservative Catholic Hierarchy Taps an American Anarchist for Sainthood

Michael Kazin
The New Republic
November 29, 2012

One week after the presidential election, the Catholic bishops of the United States unanimously endorsed a female anarchist for sainthood. That news is not quite as shocking as it seems. Dorothy Day’s anarchism was of a decidedly pious kind. In 1927, at the age of thirty, she turned away from the secular leftism of her youth and was baptized in the Church, a moment she later confessed she had been waiting for all her life.

For the next half century, Day drew on the teachings of Jesus and papal encyclicals about social justice to build the Catholic Worker movement, which continues its mission in over two hundred locations today. Now as then, its members lead a thoroughly altruistic existence, living in community houses alongside the same poor people they feed, clothe, and pray with. Day also stuck by Church doctrine about when life begins, although she had endured an abortion of her own before she converted.

Not surprisingly, many bishops now exalt her for being faithful to the causes they care most about. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York praises Day for what he called her “Augustinian” transformation: “there was a religious search, there was a pregnancy out of wedlock, and an abortion. Like Saul on the way to Damascus, she was radically changed.” Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, DC, values her empathy with the distressed: “Of all the people we need to reach out to…the street people, the ones who are on drugs, the ones who have had abortions, she was one of them.”

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