Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008

Dorothy Day

Dates: 1897-1980
Status of Cause: Servant of God (step before Venerable)
Prognosis: Beatification and canonization likely, but not immediately

"Don't call me a saint — I don't want to be dismissed that easily," said Day, a passionate socialist and anarchist who founded the Catholic Worker movement. That movement channeled Christian energy in service of the poor and of pacifism through newspapers, pickets, shelters, and the blazing charisma of its founder, a witty beauty who had abandoned a bohemian lifestyle to define an American Catholic radicalism. Many of Day's acolytes oppose her cause on grounds that the Church might magnify one episode — her pre-conversion abortion and post-conversion repentance — to turn the leftist firebrand into a pro-life icon. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the editor of the conservative journal First Things, however, supports her canonization precisely because her political and social views were "deeply grounded in fidelity to the Catholic faith". Robert Ellsberg, Day's friend and posthumous publisher, argues for canonization because her life was too public to succumb to spin, and because "anything that encourages Catholics to regard her as representative of what's best in the church rather than a marginal figure is a step in the right direction."

David Van Biema