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Thursday, September 18 2014 @ 12:44 PM CDT

The Catholic Church and Dorothy Day

Anarchist Movement

Dorothy Day’s name has found its way into news and roundtable discussions with the recent announcement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that the cause for her canonization is progressing forward. Some are forced to ask; “to what end?” In a submission on JesusRadical.com on December 21st, 2012 the title expresses “Dorothy Deserves Better.”

The Catholic Church and Dorothy Day

Jesus Radicals
by Timmothy Walsh
February 22, 2013

Dorothy Day’s name has found its way into news and roundtable discussions with the recent announcement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that the cause for her canonization is progressing forward 1. Some are forced to ask; “to what end?” In a submission on JesusRadical.com on December 21st, 2012 the title expresses “Dorothy Deserves Better.” 2

In today’s news the Catholic Church is seemingly best known for numerous cases of priests abusing adolescents, vehement anti-abortion campaigns, and it’s harsh stance on gay marriage. Over the last few decades Catholics and non-Catholics alike have watched as The Church shouldered itself with the most conservative political elements, for, as it claims, the defense of morality in the United States. With the timely elevation of Day’s case for sainthood, liberals and progressives can’t help but feel the co-opting of her memory; a woman who fought her entire life for the marginalized and oppressed people, and espoused radical left politics. It is no wonder when Cardinal Dolan speaks about his support for Day; he tends not to mention her arrests at protests of nuclear weapons or at a farm labor protest with Cesar Chavez. But when one looks at the life of Dorothy Day, and her relationship with the Catholic Church, the situation no longer seems so black and white.

The difficulty to define the sentiments of Dorothy is nothing new. Before her conversion to Catholicism, Dorothy Day was a well-known journalist and author in radical and communist circles in the United States and lauded the victory of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. She was an active member of the Women’s Suffrage movement and the Industrial Workers of the World. She had not only lived through the sexual revolution of the 1920’s but had also procured an abortion. Yet with the birth of her child she began to be drawn to spirituality and in 1927 at the age of 30, against the opinions of friends and loved ones, she was baptized into the Catholic Church. In 1932 she met Peter Maurin, a Catholic activist well versed in the writings of G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc and the ideas of Distributism and year later the “Catholic Worker” first rolled off the printing press.

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