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Dorothy Day, once a bohemian who believed in free love, is completely a saint for our time

What sets her apart from other holy men and women is that her early lifestyle was so at odds with her life after conversion

By on Monday, 19 November 2012

Dorothy Day's Cause has been endorsed by the US bishops' conference (Photo: CNS)

Dorothy Day's Cause has been endorsed by the US bishops' conference (Photo: CNS)

I was very glad to read in the Herald last Friday that the American bishops have now endorsed the Cause of Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. Day, who died in 1980, was initially championed by the late Cardinal John O’Connor of New York; now his successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is moving her hoped-for eventual canonisation forward.

Of course, anyone considered a candidate for canonisation is by definition holy and an example to the rest of us. What sets Dorothy Day apart from other 20th-century saints is that, like St Augustine, her early life was so at odds with her life after her conversion. We know that saints struggle and are tempted like other people; but we don’t always hear of their falls from grace along the way. Day is completely a saint for our time in that her life reflected all the idealism of a typical Left-wing journalist as well as the pitfalls of the feminist movement. For a time she was a Communist; she believed in free love; she lived a bohemian existence; she had an abortion which she later bitterly regretted. But as she writes in her autobiographical work, The Long Loneliness, she could never bring herself to reject religious faith as her contemporaries did in the political and journalistic circles in which she moved.

She recalled being stirred as a child by the sight of a neighbour, a poor Irish mother of a large family, praying on her knees in complete sincerity. It was when she was pregnant for the second time and was living in a beach house on Staten Island with her lover, Forster Batterham, that she received the grace to decide to have her baby, a daughter named Tamar, baptised. That decision, and her own conversion which followed it in 1926, cost her the relationship with Batterham, an agnostic; though she never stopped loving him she made the painful decision to separate from him and turn her back on her old life; eventually she moved into New York city.

It was a very lonely period. Like many who become saints – Josemaría Escrivá, Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe also come to mind in the 20th century – she sensed she had a personal mission from God, but did not know what it was or how to go about it. Providence led her to meet an odd, charismatic Frenchman, Peter Maurin, who urged her to found a newspaper and start what became the Catholic Worker Movement. It began on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker in 1933. Day had found her mission. Her considerable writing gifts were fully employed running the Catholic Worker and all her heroic generosity came into play in founding Catholic Worker hostels for the poor and unemployed. She lived in one of these hostels herself, along with her young daughter Tamar, and relinquished all thought of any privacy from then on: meals, food, company, work were all shared within the shifting, noisy, demanding community of the hostel.

Day is famous for saying “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.” She meant that people often use this term about others, in order to avoid their own obligation to holiness – and she was having none of it. Along with St Francis de Sales, I would love her to become in time the patron saint of journalists.

  • Charles

    Her points were valid in the US  when, at that time in history, women, children, and men were worked to death with low salaries at up to 80 hour weeks in dirty, unsafe and unventilated factories.  However, todays American corporate offices, though more comfortable and with higher salaries, are still exploitative  in that they require workaholic schedules of 60 to 80 hours a week, not giving employees any time for family or leisure. Though we must oppose communism as Catholics, like Dorothy Day, we should oppose exploitive capitalism as well.

  • Charles Martel

    As a Catholic traditionalist and someone who served Archbishop Lefebvre’s Mass on several occasions, I fully support the cause of Day’s beatification. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. God knows I have much more need of His mercy than Dorothy.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Here are some of the ideas of the Catholic Worker Movement as taken from their website.

    ‘The society in which we live and which is generally called capitalist (because of its method of producing wealth) and bourgeois (because of the prevalent mentality) is not in accord with justice and charity’.

    What’s more,  ‘capitalism is maintained by class war’.

    And so the Catholic Worker Movement calls for:  ‘A complete rejection of the present social order and a non-violent revolution to establish an order more in accord with Christian values….’  and,

    ‘…..widespread and universal ownership by all men of property as a stepping stone to a communism that will be in accord with the Christian teaching of detachment from material goods and which, when realized, will express itself in common ownership’.

    http://www.catholicworker.org/aimsandmeanstext.cfm?Number=201

    Incidentally, the Catholic Worker Movement claims to favour an economy based on Distributism.  However, the common ownership of property is most definitely not a Distributist principle.  But then again, the Catholic Worker Movement also claims to be Catholic.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Do you think Archbishop Lefebvre would have supprted the Catholic Workers Movement’s call for the common ownership of property, in other words, the end of private property?  Is the abolition of private property in line with traditional Catholic social teaching?  And how about Dorothy Day’s support for religious liberty, ecumenism and the liturgical reforms of Vatican II?  Check out Dorothy Day’s writings and the CWM website before daring anyone to disagree with them.

  • Jeannine

    I originally thought the same as you regarding Dorothy Day’s idea about capitalism. I recently read that she was against capitalist cronyism. I thought I also read she was all for private property rights. (I’ll look for the website.)
     
    That said, the woman has been dead since 1980. Organizations have a tendency to evolve from the original intended beliefs after the founder dies.

  • Mary O’Regan

     Excellent point.

  • Jeannine

    This is something what I read:
    “Day promoted pacifism and was a staunch defender of human dignity. She also supported distributism, an economic system largely developed by G. K. Chesterton as a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, relying upon widespread property ownership rather than ownership primarily by the state or by a small number of very wealthy individuals.”

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-bishops-heartily-approve-dorothy-day-sainthood-cause/.

    This “third way” has to be defined. This website might be a decent starting place to understand Distributism: https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Distributism.html

  • Guest

    Blessed Dorothy Day, o good.

  • Jeannine

    I originally did not like Dorothy Day because I thought her ideas were bordering on communism-socialism.  She was associated with the communists of her time which she would eventually leave behind such people. The more I read about her the more that I conclude this women should be some sort of patron saint (of course after canonization) for our times.

    Dorothy had an abortion while co-habitating with the same man who later fathered her only living daughter. (It was a complicated relationship that revealed he was a pompous “intellectual” twit.) The Catholic Church & the power of the sacraments turned her life around to become what we know of her today.

    Her life shows that if she, a very sinful woman, can become saintly then there is realistic hope for me.

  • aearon43

    Well, there’s also this:

    ” Therefore we advocate a personalism which takes on ourselves responsibility for changing conditions to the extent that we are able to do so. By establishing Houses of Hospitality we can take care of as many of those in need as we can rather than turn them over to the impersonal “charity” of the State.”

    and

    “*a* communism that will be in accord with the Christian teaching of detachment from material goods” could be read as an implicit critique of Marxism, although it probably isn’t.

  • aearon43

    Can you show where Day herself actually called for the abolition of legal property rights, rather than called Christians to detachment from material things? You can see how a few lines taken out of context in support of the latter could be made to look like the former…

  • awkwardcustomer

    .

  • awkwardcustomer

    Actually, Dorothy Day believed in private property, as she explains here.

    ‘I’m afraid I believe in private property too, though St. Gertrude says that “property, the more common it is, the more holy it is.” But when I speak of private property it is mostly personal property I am thinking of. A typewriter, for instance-a fountain pen, one’s books, one’s own bed. Of course if one is deprived of these things, one should thank the one who deprives, since they are lightening one’s load on the journey to heaven.’ 

    http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/daytext.cfm?TextID=177&SearchTerm=private property

  • Alan

    So she supported religious liberty and ecumenism?  Great!  Canonise her now.

  • Carol Byrne

    The big
    problem here is that supporters of Dorothy Day are not considering the whole
    picture, but are basing their assessment on a myopic vision of her life and
    works, with the result that some serious factual omissions have been made. No
    one doubts that she helped the poor. But the fact remains that she continued to
    believe implicitly in the truth and soundness of Marxist-Leninist doctrines and
    found in Marxist political theory a very convenient rationalization for her own
    instinctive desire to bring down the economic and political structures of
    Western society. Not even conversion to the Catholic Church managed to rid her
    of this rigid thought process.
     

    In my
    book, “The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-80): a Critical Analysis”, (published
    by Authorhouse, 2010) I have provided proof, drawn from archival evidence, that
    even after her conversion to Catholicism, Miss Day became a member of several
    Socialist organizations and was actively involved in political groups whose
    founders and leaders where predominantly Communist Party members. 

     

    The book
    contains documentary evidence to prove that Miss Day supported the policies of
    hostile foreign powers operating from Moscow, Havana, Peking and Hanoi
    against her own country, the USA.
    She also wrote favourably about such Socialist dictators as Lenin, Castro, Mao
    and Ho Chi Minh, even though they had all violently persecuted the Church in
    their respective countries. In fact, Day was so radical and anti-American that
    the FBI placed her on the federal government’s Security Index.

     

    And why should we confer sainthood on someone who praised
    and supported the enemies of the Church when such activities were condemned by
    successive Popes of the time? This is
    how Pope Pius XI presented it in Divini Redemptoris: “Communism is intrinsically evil, and no
    one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any
    undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into
    lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own country, will
    be the first to fall victims of their error. And the greater the antiquity and
    grandeur of the Christian civilization in the regions where Communism
    successfully penetrates, so much more devastating will be the hatred displayed
    by the godless.” And in July 1949 his successor, Pope Pius XII, issued a decree
    of excommunication against anyone who collaborated with Communists or joined
    their associations.

     

    The
    evidence is irrefutable that Dorothy Day was a radical revolutionary who strove
    throughout her life to bring Socialism into the Catholic Church under the guise
    of “Christian Communism” and Distributism.

    Please
    read the above-mentioned book which is obtainable from Amazon and let the facts
    (which have been carefully suppressed) speak for themselves. This would avoid
    the embarrassment, not to mention the scandal, of canonizing a Catholic
    Communizer. For even more information, visit the blog “Dorothy Day Another
    Way.”

  • lifeknight

    Seriously folks, can you in good conscience read the lives of saints with your children every day and then proclaim the wonderful history and works of Ms. Day?  I am unable to put this misguided young woman up there with Mother Teresa.  Please don’t tell me about St. Augustine’s transgressions; he did not defy Natural Law.   

  • Jeannine

    I do know that Dorothy Day never disobeyed the Church. Yes, she was for distributism but so was GK Chesterton. Distributism is different from Redistributism. I am a little sensitive to the difference because Obama is for redistributism.

    Dorothy Day may not have left her communist friends but that doesn’t mean she continued to agree with their beliefs. Even Jesus had dinner with sinners. My own brother-in-law is a communist sympathizer. I disagree with his beliefs but I’m certainly not going to disown him.

  • Carol Byrne

    Jeannine is
    mistaken about Dorothy Day’s obedience to the Church. Even Dorothy’s own
    supporters flaunt her disobedience on several occasions. Geoffrey Gneuhs,
    chaplain to the CWM, reported that Mgr Gaffney informed her that she would have
    to cease publication of the Catholic Worker
    (CW ) or change the name
    of the newspaper — the word “Catholic” could not be used.

    Michael
    Harrington, author and Socialist who resided for some time at the Catholic
    Worker, reported that Cardinal Spellman had made an unsuccessful attempt
    through his assistant Archbishop to get Day to drop the word “Catholic” from
    her newspaper.

    Jim Forest, former Managing Editor of CW, recalled that Cardinal Spellman put
    pressure on Day to remove the word “Catholic” from her newspaper. Ammon
    Hennacy, Day’s anarchist friend and assistant editor of CW, recalled that in
    February 1960 he received a phone call from a certain Monsignor who demanded
    that the name “Catholic” be removed from their headquarters – and that Day
    simply shrugged off the order as irrelevant.

    In spite of Day’s
    oft-quoted assertion that “If our dear, sweet cardinal, who is the Vicar
    of Christ in New York City, told me to shut down the Catholic Worker, I would
    close it down immediately,”
    the obvious message conveyed by these testimonies from her closest associates
    is that she never had any intention of obeying orders from the Cardinal through
    his representatives. She even threatened to hold a massive demonstration at St
    Patrick’s Cathedral in protest against the Cardinal’s legitimate order.

    There were
    occasions when Day, foot loose and conscience free, attended the services of
    other religions for the purposes of addressing the congregation or
    participating in their liturgies – both of which were strictly forbidden by
    Canon Law. In 1940 she spoke from the pulpit of a Methodist church in Portland. Jim Forest
    recorded that Day introduced him to liturgies in New York’s
    Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Upper Manhattan
    which she herself attended. (This is the Cathedral of St Nicholas, the official
    church of an anti-Catholic country, loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate, and was a
    puppet of the Soviet government.)

    The fact is that
    Dorothy Day was a wayward spirit who disobeyed the Catholic Church whenever it
    disagreed with her political agenda.

  • Jeannine

    If any part of this is true with proof, I suggest you get in touch with the Archdiocese of New York & make sure they interview you before the canonization process goes further. And if they refuse you, contact that Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Seems to me you’re obligated to the Church to make sure it knows all the facts, so a good decision can be made.
     
    So far everything you mentioned can be interpreted differently. Please remember that Dorothy Day was not a religious sister so she was not obligated to obey the clerics in all aspects of her life except when it involved the sacraments. Knowing about the NY high ranking clergy at that time, I have no doubt that they wanted to show their power over the laity.
     
    BTW even if Rome agrees to study her cause, there still has to be 2 miracles for canonization. Seems to me that God has the final say.

  • Stilbelieve

    Read Carol’s book.  Dorthy Day is not a life to look up to.  That is the problem with Catholics today.  Too many of them don’t believe what they say they believe.  She was one of them.  She believed what she believed and that was not what the Catholic Church believed or taught.  If she respected the Church she would have removed the word Catholic from her publication when the Church authority in her diocese requested she do so.  Surely, many more people living in that diocese are deserving of sainthood more than she that we never heard of. How many souls did she bring to God?  She is the “great grandmother” of the President Catholics just elected again.  If she gets sainthood, Obama certainly should as well.

  • Carol Byrne

    Like all of Dorothy Day’s supporters, Francis Phillips assumes that Day became a reformed character after breaking with her bohemian past. But the
    true situation is less edifying – Dorothy Day ran a number of disorderly houses
    which were the scene of radical meetings where Communists, Anarchists and all
    subversive breeds convened for purposes of revolution, and where drunkenness and
    debauchery often raged unchecked in the absence of anyone in charge exercising
    personal responsibility. By 1942, it was clear that Dorothy Day was actually
    encouraging the breakdown of Christian social order by supporting the wildly
    antinomian spirit of living at Easton Farm, Pennsylvania. One of the residents wrote to
    Day complaining that she had “trusted the management of the farm to habitual
    drunks”, adding that some money donated for poor relief was spent on “liquor
    and the payment of fines to the police”, and
    another correspondent expressed concern for the welfare of the children on the
    farm where “everybody was drunk” and were “all like beasts.” (quoted in James Terence Fisher, The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962, UNC Press,
    2001, p. 121)

     

    In all the Catholic Worker communes
    problems were rife, and Day herself had to admit that these involved stealing
    from the poor, drunkenness, sexual immorality, physical and verbal abuse,
    threats of violence and refusal to co-operate in the work effort. There was
    even a case of a Catholic Worker child being kidnapped by one of the homeless
    residents.  This happened to the Gauchat
    family, close friends of Day’s, who established a farm in Avon, Ohio.
    It transpired that William Gauchat, the child’s father, was willing to continue
    exposing his children to the moral and physical danger of sharing their home
    with vagrants, calling his decision the Christian duty of “Personalism”.
     

     

  • Carol Byrne

    Thankyou, Jeannine, for your kind consideration.I will take up your suggestion of contacting the Archdiocese of New York.
    Please note that in my book I have never made a statement about Dorothy Day that cannot be substantiated by authentic sources and/or archival evidence.
    The problem about Day’s disobedience to the Chruch has nothing to do with the fact that she set up an organzation to feed the poor, for which no ecclesiastical permission is needed. But she certainly contravened Canon Law by using the word “Catholic” for her organization and newspaper without the Bishop’s permission. She herself admitted that she did so without seeking permission from the hierarchy. It was a decision
    which involved Day in a protracted controversy with the Archdiocese of New York.
    How serious a breach of ecclesiastical discipline this was can be gauged from the prescriptions of Canon Law in force at the time which stated that no association calling itself Catholic could be legitimately established without the prior consent of the hierarchy. This prohibition was further reinforced in a later edition of the Code (Canon 206) which stated that, while lay people can undertake charitable works on their own initiative, “[n]o initiative, however, can lay claim to the title ‘Catholic’ without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”
    As for her newspaper, the Catholic Worker, while Canon Law did
    not require that all works produced by Catholics receive ecclesiastical
    authorization, it applies to written material dealing with religion and morals
    which are intended for public consumption either for sale or free distribution.
    The very first edition of CW set out
    the doctrinal objectives of the newspaper – to make known the Church’s social
    teaching contained in the papal encyclicals. By editing the content of the newspaper, Day ensured that only material
    agreeing with her interpretation of the papal encyclicals and biblical passages would be published as
    the Church’s social teaching. The seriousness of the affair lies in the
    fact that Day was challenging the mission of the Church by her attempts to
    teach Catholic doctrine on her own authority in a newspaper styled “Catholic”, with
    the declared intention to “make the poor holy”, which is the prerogative of the
    Church’s divine mission.  

  • Phil Runkel

    She wrote a long, respectful letter to the chancellor of the New York Archdiocese, stating that she would change the name of the newspaper rather than cease publishing. There is no evidence in the records here at Marquette that they pressed the point. Despite her clashes with Cardinal Spellman, Day remained on good terms with other members of the hierarchy, including Cardinal Cushing.

  • Carol Byrne

    But the fundamental point here is that Dorothy Day never changed the name of the newspaper in spite of the Cardinal’s order to remove the word “Catholic” from it. Surely obedience to one’s lawful superior and filial submission to authority in this area covered by Canon Law are essential for the canonization process to proceed.
    Let us not minimize the gravity of Day’s clashes with the Cardinal -  by using the title “Catholic” for her newspaper without permission she was usurping the right to act
    in the name of the Church while using it to instruct
    Catholics on the Faith or to explain the meaning of biblical passages to them
    in the light of her own (political) theories.
    The absence of records at Marquette is hardly conclusive. There is plenty of evidence provided by Day’s own supporters – Geoffrey Gneuhs, Michael Harrington, Jim Forest, Ammon Hennacy etc – who flaunt the fact that Day repeatedly resisted the Cardinal’s order for many years.
    I fail to see how being “on good terms” with certain bishops exonerates Day from disobedience. There were always some members of the clergy – and these are mentioned in my book – whose political views coincided with hers and who were prepared to support her.   

  • UbiPetrusEst

     lifeknight, you are so correct. At the National Prayer Breakfast in April,  Obama called Dorothy Day “one of the great social reformers.” Her propagandist writings have much in common with those of his mentor, the Communist Frank Marshall Davis (see article on the blog “Dorothy Day Another Way” for details). I nearly fell over when Francis Phillips put Day in the same class as St. Jose Maria Escriva. Day refused as a pacifist to take sides in the Spanish Civil War. She also encouraged the young not to fight in World War II. When the US and the USSR were both working to develop atomic bombs, she stated her belief  “That it is better
    that the United States be liquidated than that she survive by war.” (“We Are Un-American, We Are Catholics,”  Catholic Worker, April 1948).  When asked years later
    about the Holocaust in World War II, “she replied that winning the war had not
    saved many Jews” (William  D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography,  1982, p. 365). 

    As for St. Augustine, he did not become a Christian and continue to fraternize with his old Manichean friends, nor did he idealize them as being more virtuous, more devoted to their cause, and  more loving than the Christians. In contrast, Dorothy maintained her friendship with many Communists including her fellow writer and ex-boyfriend Mike Gold, whose proletariat novel, Jews Without Money,  she praised in her newspaper column “On Pilgrimage” more than once. Entries in Day’s diaries, published as The Duty of Delight in 2011, show that Day also maintained a personal and professional relationship with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the Chair of the Communist Party USA. Her support of Communists and their ideas and devotion to their cause are too numerous to cite here, but are liberally sprinkled throughout her books, articles, letters, and diary entries, as Dr. Carol Byrne documents so well in The Catholic Worker Movement: A Critical Analysis (2010).
     

  • UbiPetrusEst

     aeraron43, The second quotation  actually says that a  Christian communism in accord with Christian idea of detachment COULD BE READ AS AN IMPLICIT CRITIQUE OF MARXISM, BUT THIS CHRISTIAN COMMUNISM IS PROBABLY NOT AN IMPLICIT CRITICISM OF MARXISM. Vintage Dorothy Day!

  • aearon43

    Right, it depends whether you read “a Christian communism” with the emphasis on “Christian,” thus implying something like “not at all like the Marxist kind of communism” or with the emphasis on “communism” meaning, “basically Marxism without the anti-religion stuff.”

  • UbiPetrusEst

     In  the April 1950 “Catholic Worker,” Day reviewed the book “Poverty: An Essential Element in the Christian Life,” by Fr. Regamy, a French Dominician. She declared:  “This [book] is really a call to a general strike, a revolution, an
    expropriation of land and tools. It could be dynamite, this book, but it
    won’t be, because the argument will go on as to what is poverty and
    what destitution….If you cry aloud
    for land and home and tools and the good natural life for the poor
    without which a good supernatural life is impossible, then you are
    either an escapist and an inhabitant of an ivory tower, or you are a
    Communist in disguise trying to do away with property.” She does not deny these charges, but continues, “We can only reply with Eric Gill, that the aim of the Church is to make the rich poor and the poor holy.”
    The objective of making “the rich poor and the poor holy”– which I have not been able to locate in either Scripture or Church documents such as papal encyclicals as a function or task of the Church—would require abolishing the property rights of the well off, for Day offers it in defense of a book “that is really a call to a general strike, a revolution, an expropriation of land and tools.”  In addition, the Catholic Worker Movement’s expropriation of Gill’s phrase seems ill advised, the task assigned to the Church seems excessive–isn’t it God who makes people holy, not the economic system?  Can you locate Gill’s phrase in authoritative church sources to facilitate this discussion?

  • UbiPetrusEst

     Actually, Dorothy aborted the child of Lionel Moise, a tough newspaperman with whom she had an affair. He ordered her to have the abortion, then walked out on her. Forster Batterham,  an American who came from North Carolina to
    Greenwich Village, was the father of Dorothy’s only living daughter.  (William D. Miller, “Dorothy Day,” 1982, pp. 140-141, 166, 184). She also enabled the lax morality at the Catholic Worker Farms  (as documented by Dr. Carol Byrne) and even introduced Ammon Hennacy, “non-Church Christian,” to his future second wife, saying, “Oh, you must meet Ammon. He knows all about fasting. And he likes pretty girls.” (quoted by Joan Thomas, “The Years of Grief and Laughter: A ‘Biography’ of Ammon Hennacy,” Hennacy Press, 1974, p. 7). Five years later Ammon married Joan Thomas, who repeatedly points out that she was 41 years younger than him in her book.

  • UbiPetrusEst

     Jeannine, if you check the Catholic Worker’s site, you will see that the most of the writings posted there are Dorothy’s.  Her successors have not renounced her political or economic views, but have continued to follow her by their participation in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and in their continuing attacks on the US military’s policies or property..
     
    The blog “Dorothy Day Another Way”  gives  some samples of Dorothy’s writings or sayings: “Let us be honest and confess that it is the social order which we
    wish to change” (“C.W. States Stand on Strikes,”  Catholic Worker, July 1936). “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system” (in a public speech,  quoted in “Women on War,” Daniela Gioseffi, ed.,
    1988, pp. 103, 371) .”When people are standing up for our present rotten system, they are being worse than Communists, it seems to me.”  (March 4, 1945 diary  entry, “The Duty of Delight,” 2011, p. 98). “And now I had become a Catholic and Smokey and I were
    fellow-workers in a Catholic endeavor to build up a decentralist,
    libertarian, or in other words, an anarchist-pacifist social order.” (“On Pilgrimage,”  “Catholic Worker,” October 1970)

  • UbiPetrusEst

     For the record, regardless of what she said, Day refused to change the paper’s name, even though she acknowledged in the “Catholic Worker,” September 1946 article  entitled “The Church and Work” that “The Catholic Worker is not part of Catholic Action as such,
    having no Mandate from the Hierarchy for this work”.

  • lifeknight

    Thank you for having the appropriate written resources for backing up my reluctance in following along with the USCCB recommendation.  Sometimes it feels like “kill the messenger” when questioning those in charge of these decisions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Runkel/728897893 Phil Runkel

    For the record, Terence Cardinal Cooke (Cardinal Spellman’s successor) was principal celebrant and homilest at the memorial mass for Dorothy Day, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, 26 January 1981. He stated in his remarks that “She was always a loving and loyal daughter of the church.”

  • UbiPetrusEst

     Jeannine, you probably know the saying, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, it must be a duck.” Dorothy Day’s writings show her belief in class war; she wrote: “Our Catholic Worker groups are perhaps too hardened to the sufferings in
    the class war, living as they do in refugee camps, the refugees being,
    as they are, victims of the class war we live in always” (“Why Do the Members of Christ Tear One Another?” Catholic Worker,
    February 1942). She was a hand-picked “observer” at the  Sixteenth Annual Communist Party USA Convention in 1957 and wrote, “it was a privilege to be invited to attend as an
    observer” (“On Pilgrimage,” Catholic Worker, March 1957).  In her “On Pilgrimage” column in the January 1970 Catholic Worker, Day praised a local couple for  realizing that “we were a revolutionary headquarters rather than a Bowery mission,
    as most newspapers like to picture us”; and she went on to state: “In 1954 I had written an article for the Catholic Worker  entitled ‘Ho Chi Minh and Theophane Venard, the hero and the saint.’ . . . If we had had
    the privilege of giving hospitality to a Ho Chi Minh, with what respect
    and interest we would have served him, as a man of vision, as a
    patriot, a rebel against foreign invaders.”
    Your surprise and disbelief are understandable. I was shocked to discover her views when I started to check her writings. This side of Dorothy Day is not mentioned in most articles and books about her. Dr. Carol Byrne’s book is the exception in being a “Critical Analysis,” and is a must-read to get a realistic picture of Day. The blog “Dorothy Day Another Way” also presents information about Day that is  worth viewing for an informed view.

  • UbiPetrusEst

    Ironically, many people in the US, where I live, do not even know who Dorothy Day is, and confuse her with the actress and singer, exclaiming, “They want to make Doris Day a saint?”  Others who know of her are on guard if they have heard or read of her radical and Marxist beliefs. She created a mishmash of Catholic and Communist beliefs; some people are not aware of this and have only been told of her work with the poor. Actually, the USCCB  vote was a “consultative” voice vote to enable her cause to continue to be investigated. This approval was required by Rome.

  • UbiPetrusEst

    Cardinal Cooke lacked knowledge of recently published materials from the Dorothy Day Archives at Marquette University that reveal Day’s double-mindedness in regard to obedience to the Cardinal. Michael Harrington describes how Day said, “If our dear sweet cardinal, who is the vicar of Christ in New York City, told me to shut down the Catholic Worker, I would close it down immediately” (R. R. Troester, Voices from the Catholic Worker, 1993, p. 75).  If Day had meant this, the long letter she wrote to the chancery in 1951 (All the Way to Heaven: Selected Letters of Dorothy Day, ed. R. Ellsberg, 2010, pp. 190-193) would not have been necessary. She would have done what she said she would do. Instead, her diary, The Duty of Delight (2011, pp. 167-169) records the debate that she conducted with her fellow Catholic Workers, and contains a footnote erroneously stating that “The matter was not raised again” by Church authorities. For the documented evidence, see Carol Byrne’s “Complete Supplementary Notes” (Chapter 16, pp. 205, 207 entries) available at the “Dorothy Day Another Way” blog.
    Harrington was misled by Day’s statement declaring immediate obedience and thought she meant it. “She was dead serious,” he states (Voices, p. 75). Again, her diary would have enlightened him.  There she wrote:  ” ‘Our dear sweet Christ on earth,’ a phrase used by St. Catherine of Siena when she was admonishing [Pope] Gregory XI”  (p. 563).                                                                                                                                                           I

  • lifeknight

    I ordered the book and look forward to educating myself beyond my own opinion and the trepidation I feel toward Ms. Day becoming a saint.  

  • lifeknight

    I ordered the book by Carol Byrne, hoping to have documented information that can be shared.  In discussing the life of Ms. Day with friends, the frequent comment was: “She wasn’t even a good actress!”  Ignorance is the sad truth of our American culture. 

  • Carol Byrne

    Pulling rank is not a valid argument. The fact that a
    high-ranking official has given his opinion cannot in itself be regarded as
    evidence. It has been a characteristic of the process that those who are currently pursuing Day’s canonization have
    been rationalizing or ignoring the incontestable evidence that conflicted with
    their favoured hypotheses. Their proposals
    are presented as self-validating arguments and are used to close down any
    further debate on the issue. It was because of this lack of objective evidence
    that I wrote my book to expose the glaring discrepancies between fact and
    fiction in the accounts of Day’s life provided by her supporters. It is time to
    speak truth to power.  

  • Carol Byrne

    Pulling rank is not a valid argument. The fact that a
    high-ranking official has given his opinion cannot in itself be regarded as
    evidence. It has been a characteristic of the process that those who are currently pursuing Day’s canonization have
    been rationalizing or ignoring the incontestable evidence that conflicted with
    their favoured hypotheses. Their proposals
    are presented as self-validating arguments and are used to close down any
    further debate on the issue. It was because of this lack of objective evidence
    that I wrote my book to expose the glaring discrepancies between fact and
    fiction in the accounts of Day’s life provided by her supporters. It is time to
    speak truth to power.  

  • Rosalie Riegle

     Jeannine, you are mistaken about the time of the abortion.  It happened before she ever met Forster Batterham, the father of Tamar.