The Thinking 

Dorothy Day, Marxist Saint

August 5, 2012

Dorothy Day, 1934

AT Tradition in Action, Carol Byrne writes about disturbing efforts within the Catholic Church to beatify Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. Archbishop Timonty Dolan has called Day “one of the most significant women in the life of the Church in the United States.” Writes Byrne:

Every so often the name of Dorothy Day pops up in the media, especially in the Catholic press, where she is invariably presented as a revered icon of social reform, a peace-loving and charitable figure who dedicated her life to helping the poor.

In fact, Byrne argues, Day’s thinking was that of a radical who wished to overturn the existing economic and social order.

The data [recommending Day] repeat the same hackneyed ideas that we have heard and read ad nauseam in the standard hagiographies of Day – how she had “a passion for the poor and dispossessed,” gave up Communism on becoming a Catholic, and rejected all forms of violence and war. But how true are all these claims?

We have every reason to doubt the veracity of these claims because they all have one basic flaw in common: Their authors pick and choose from among details of Day’s life in order to put as much distance as possible between her and Communism. But, as authentic documentary evidence has shown, Day never gave up her communist friends or philosophy. (6)

Even after her conversion, she was a member of several Socialist organizations and was actively involved in political groups whose founders and leaders where predominantly Communist Party members. In addition to collaborating with such groups, Day also used her newspaper, the Catholic Worker, (of which she was editor for almost 50 years) as an organ of propaganda in favor of Communism.

—– Comments —–

Jane S. writes:

This reminds me of an old joke about how to persuade a Christian to accept socialism.

First, you explain to the Christian that socialism is perfectly compatible with Christianity.

Once you’ve got him fully on board with the idea, you explain to him that Christianity is not at all compatible with socialism.

James P. writes:

The Wikipedia article about canonization notes:

“Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister of 25 January 1983, and the norms issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 7 February 1983, for its implementation on diocesan level continued the work of simplification already initiated by Pope Paul VI. In particular, the reforms eliminated the office of the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil’s advocate, who was required to present a case against canonization. Possibly as a result, the rate of canonization increased markedly after 1983.”

Clearly, this was a mistake. If nobody is charged with making a case against canonization, then the case for canonization is much more likely to succeed. In this particular case, the “pro” case for the odious Dorothy Day (a revered icon of social reform, a peace-loving and charitable figure who dedicated her life to helping the poor) will only be heard, and the “con” case (she was a Communist and supporter of foreign Communist dictators) will be swept under the rug.

Laura writes:

This lack of considered debate is part of the saint factory initiated by Pope John Paul II.

Texanne writes:

Dorothy Day seems to be the role model for the “nuns on the bus.” How would one distinguish between Miss Day and the leaders of today’s LCWR? Think of Sr. Joan Chittister, Sr. Simone Campbell, Sr. Pat Farrell, Sr. Carol and Sr, Sandra Schneiders — one can see Miss Day’s portrait and profile right alongside these feminists.

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