A Pacifist Anarchist Catholic Saint

Justin Whitaker writes at Patheos:

If you don’t already subscribe to PBS’s Religion and Ethics News Weekly, I highly recommend that you do. This story alone is worth it.

It focuses on the life of Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic, a socialist, an anarchist, and, perhaps very soon, a Saint.

Dorothy Day has always loomed large in the back of my mind. Growing up Catholic, to two very liberal parents (my mother marched with and had dinner with a member of the Chicago Seven), I was drawn to the idea that Catholics could also be radicals. My parents faded away from the Church, sometimes recalling that the most vicious people they had ever encountered were Catholic nuns in primary schools. And as they faded, so did I, drawn to science, atheism and existentialism, then humanism, and eventually Buddhism.

The very name of Day’s movement, the Catholic Worker Movement, clearly echoes her Communist sympathies (or at least shared interests) – noting that we humans are workers as much as anything and that work deserves respect and the recognition of the dignity of each and every one of us. Of course this is distinguished from the way we all are typically described, as consumers. Here our value is determined by how much we take, not by what we give.

I’m no orthodox Marxist, but I believe Day was on to something. We need balance, and these days things seem far from balanced.

At Day’s Catholic Worker soup kitchen I am heartened to see (in the video) that one of the volunteers interviewed openly admits to not being a Christian. Yet his ability to work, to give, is still valued. He is accepted based on that, on his practices rather than his beliefs.

Others, Christian and not, Socialist and not, were drawn to her  ”pacifist anarchist movement” through their own conscience as much as to holding any particular beliefs, and it has been this common conscience, a shared sense of the rightness of helping those in need, which has kept the movement alive for 80 years this year.

When I mentioned this on facebook, a friend reminded me of Thomas Merton and Simone Weil, two fellow radicals and inspirations to all of us from the 20th century.


Another friend reminded me this morning that in order to be canonized, Day would need two miracles attributed to her. There are no miracles attributed to her intercession mentioned in recent articles, although the Washington Post reported in 2000 that a Sociologist named Robert Coles, a Day admirer, said his wife prayed to Day and experienced a healing (actually… see comment below). …

Read more here.

3 Comments on "A Pacifist Anarchist Catholic Saint"

  1. Great post. Day is a personal hero of mine and I even know a young lady who was named after her. Thanks for the great post. I heard some of the NPR report as well. Nice to see Disinfo getting so smart again.

  2. emperorreagan | Feb 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm |

    So is the church considering her sainthood out of spite? She didn’t want to be a saint and the conservative side of the church thinks she was just about an atheist.

  3. Justin Whitaker | Mar 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

    My thanks to Disinfo.com for running this! And thank you Joe Nolan for your comment and kind words. May we be hopeful yet diligent.

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