Dorothy Day (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist and anarchist who, after a bohemian youth, became a Catholic without abandoning her social and anarchist activism. She was perhaps the best-known political radical among American Catholics.
Dorothy Day (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist and anarchist who, after a bohemian youth, became a Catholic without abandoning her social and anarchist activism. She was perhaps the best-known political broadminded among American Catholics.
Day’s conversion is described in her 1952 autobiography, The Long Loneliness. Day was furthermore an lithe journalist, and described her social activism in her writings. In 1917 she was imprisoned as a advocate of suffragist Alice Paul’s nonviolent Silent Sentinels. In the 1930s, Day worked next to with fellow activist Peter Maurin to avow the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist pastime that combines dispatch aid for the poor and homeless bearing in mind nonviolent concentrate on action on their behalf. She skilled civil disobedience, which led to additional arrests in 1955, 1957, and in 1973 at the age of seventy-five.
As allowance of the Catholic Worker Movement, Day co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933, and served as its editor from 1933 until her death in 1980. In this newspaper, Day advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism, which she considered a third pretentiousness between capitalism and socialism. Pope Benedict XVI used her conversion relation as an example of how to “journey towards faith … in a secularized environment.” In an residence before the United States Congress, Pope Francis included her in a list of four exemplary Americans who “buil a bigger future”.
The Church has opened the cause for Day’s reachable canonization, which was accepted by the Holy See for investigation. For that reason, the Church refers to her taking into account the title of Servant of God.
Dorothy May Day was born on November 8, 1897, in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She was born into a relatives described by one biographer as “solid, patriotic, and center class”. Her father, John Day, was a Tennessee indigenous of Irish heritage, while her mother, Grace Satterlee, a indigenous of upstate New York, was of English ancestry. Her parents were married in an Episcopal church in Greenwich Village. She had three brothers (including Donald S. Day) and a sister and was the third oldest child. In 1904, her father, a sportswriter devoted to horse racing, took a position past a newspaper in San Francisco. The associates lived in Oakland, California until the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 destroyed the newspaper’s facilities, and her daddy lost his job. From the spontaneous reaction to the earthquake’s devastation, the humanity of neighbors in a grow old of crisis, Day drew a lesson more or less individual discharge duty and the Christian community. The intimates relocated to Chicago.
Day’s parents were nominal Christians who rarely attended church. As a young person child, she showed a marked religious streak, reading the Bible frequently. When she was ten, she started to attend Church of Our Saviour, an Episcopal church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, after its rector convinced her mommy to let Day’s brothers connect the church choir. She was taken later the liturgy and its music. She studied the catechism and was baptized and confirmed in that church in 1911.
Day was an grasping reader in her teens, particularly loving of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. She worked from one record to another, noting Jack London’s hint of Herbert Spencer in Martin Eden, and next from Spencer to Darwin and Huxley. She scholarly about anarchy and extreme poverty from Peter Kropotkin, who promoted a belief in cooperation contrary to Darwin’s competition for survival. She as well as enjoyed Russian literature while in academic circles studies, especially Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Gorky. Day approach a lot of socially sentient work, which gave her a background for her future; it helped encouragement her sustain for and involvement in social activism. Day graduated from Robert Waller High School in 1914.
In 1914, Day attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign upon a scholarship. She was a reluctant scholar. Her reading was chiefly in a Christian open-minded social direction. She avoided campus social life, and supported herself rather than rely on money from her father, buying all her clothing and shoes from discount stores. She left the academic world after two years, and moved to New York City.
She settled on the Lower East Side of New York and worked on the staff of several Socialist publications, including The Liberator, The Masses, and The Call. She “smilingly explained to enthusiastic socialists that she was ‘a pacifist even in the class war.'” Years later, Day described how she was pulled in substitute directions: “I was single-handedly eighteen, so I wavered along with my loyalty to Socialism, Syndicalism (of the Industrial Workers of the World – I.W.W.) and Anarchism. When I open Tolstoy I was an Anarchist. My allegiance to The Call kept me a Socialist, although a left-wing one, and my Americanism on a slope me to the I.W.W. movement.”
She highly praised the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, the overthrow of the monarchy and commencement of a reformist government. In November 1917, she was arrested for picketing at the White House on behalf of women’s suffrage as share of a disquiet called the Silent Sentinels organized by Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party. Sentenced to 30 days in jail, she served 15 days since being released, ten of them on a hunger strike.
Day spent several months in Greenwich Village, where she became close to Eugene O’Neill, whom she later qualified with having produced “an magnification of the religious sense that was in me.” She had a adore affair of several years later Mike Gold, a innovative writer who difficult became a prominent Communist. Later she approved Gold in the same way as being “indirect involved” in the beginning of the Catholic Worker movement. Day maintained friendships next such prominent American Communists as Anna Louise Strong and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn who became the head of the Communist Party USA.
Initially, Day lived a bohemian life. In 1920, after ending an unhappy adore affair similar to Lionel Moise, and after having an abortion that was “the good tragedy of her life,” she married Berkeley Tobey in a civil ceremony. She spent the better allowance of a year afterward him in Europe, removed from politics, focusing upon art and literature, and writing a semi-autobiographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin (1924), based on her affair past Moise. In its “Epilogue,” she tried to draw lessons more or less the status of women from her experience: “I thought I was a release and emancipated young girl and found out I wasn’t at all. …Freedom is just a modernity gown, a extra trapping that we women action to take over the man we want.” She curtains her marriage to Tobey upon their return to the United States.
Day innovative called The Eleventh Virgin a “very bad book.” The sale of the movie rights to the novel gave her $2,500, and she bought a seashore cottage as a writing retreat in Staten Island, New York. Soon she found a other lover, Forster Batterham, an activist and biologist, who united her there upon weekends. She lived there from 1925 to 1929, entertaining contacts and enjoying a romantic relationship that foundered following she took passionately to motherhood and religion.
Day, who had thought herself sterile similar to her abortion, was delighted to find she was pregnant in mid-1925, while Batterham dreaded fatherhood. While she visited her mother in Florida, separating from Batterham for several months, she intensified her exploration of Catholicism. When she returned to Staten Island, Batterham found her increasing devotion, attendance at Mass, and religious reading incomprehensible. Soon after the birth of their daughter Tamar Teresa, on March 4, 1926, Day encountered a local Catholic religious sister, Sister Aloysia, and subsequently her support educated herself in the Catholic faith, and had her baby baptized in July 1927. Batterham refused to attend the ceremony. His membership with Day became increasingly unbearable, as her desire for marriage in the Church confronted his reaction to organized religion, Catholicism most of all. After one last battle in late December, Day refused to allow him to return. On December 28, she underwent conditional baptism in the Catholic Church subsequent to Sister Aloysia as her godparent.
In the summer of 1929, to put Batterham astern her, Day fashionable a job writing film dialogue for Pathé Motion Pictures and moved to Los Angeles afterward Tamar. A few months later, following the 1929 buildup market crash, her covenant was not renewed. She returned to New York via a sojourn in Mexico and a family visit in Florida. Day supported herself as a journalist, writing a cultivation column for the local paper, the Staten Island Advance, and feature articles and autograph album reviews for several Catholic publications, including Commonweal.
In 1932, inspired by conversations when Mike Gold’s brother George, a leader of the upcoming Hunger March in Washington D.C., she traveled to Washington to report upon the march for Commonweal. Her experience there annoyed her decision to take a greater role in social activism and Catholicism. During the hunger strikes in D.C. in December 1932, she wrote of swine filled like pride watching the marchers, but she couldn’t pull off much taking into consideration her conversion. She explanation in her autobiography: “I could write, I could protest, to infuriate the conscience, but where was the Catholic leadership in the accretion of bands of men and women together, for the actual works of mercy that the comrades had always made portion of their technique in reaching the workers?” Later, she visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in northeast D.C. to find the child support for a prayer to find a quirk to use her gifts and talents to urge on her fellow workers and the poor.
In 1932, Day met Peter Maurin, the man she always official as the founder of the action with which she is identified. Maurin, a French immigrant and something of a vagabond, had entered the Brothers of the Christian Schools in his original France, before emigrating, first to Canada, then to the United States.
Despite his lack of formal education, Maurin was a man of deep intellect and decidedly mighty views. He had a vision of social justice and its attachment with the poor, which was partly inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. He had a vision of produce an effect based on sharing ideas and subsequent accomplish by the poor themselves. Maurin was deeply versed in the writings of the Church Fathers and the papal documents on social matters that had been issued by Pope Leo XIII and his successors. Maurin provided Day following the grounding in Catholic theology of the infatuation for social statute they both felt.
Years sophisticated Day described how Maurin also broadened her knowledge by bringing “a digest of the writings of Kropotkin one day, calling my attention especially to Fields, Factories, and Workshops. Day observed: “I was au fait with Kropotkin isolated through his Memoirs of a Revolutionist, which had originally control serially in the Atlantic Monthly. She wrote: “Oh, far hours of daylight of American freedom, when Karl Marx could write for the morning Tribune in New York, and Kropotkin could not isolated be published in the Atlantic, but be conventional as a guest into the homes of New England Unitarians, and in Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago!” Maurin drew Day’s attention to French models and literature.
The Catholic Worker movement started later the Catholic Worker appeared upon May 1, 1933, priced at one cent, and published continuously past then. It was aimed at those suffering the most in the depths of the Great Depression, “those who think there is no hope for the future,” and announced to them that “the Catholic Church has a social program. …There are men of God who are effective not unaccompanied for their spiritual but for their material welfare.” It well-liked no advertising and did not pay its staff. Publication of the first concern was supported in ration by a $1 donation from Sister Peter Claver, for whom a Catholic Worker house was forward-thinking named.
Like many newspapers of the day, including those for which Day had been writing, it was an unapologetic example of advocacy journalism. It provided coverage of strikes and explored full of life conditions, especially women and African American workers, and explained papal teaching upon social issues. Its outlook was partisan and stories were designed to influence its readers to accept action locally, for example, by patronizing laundries recommended by the Laundry Workers’ Union. Its advocacy of federal child labor laws put it at odds in the manner of the American Church hierarchy from its first issue. Still, Day censored some of Maurin’s attacks on the Church hierarchy and tried to have a hoard of the paper’s issues presented to Pope Pius XI in 1935.
The paper’s principal competitor in distribution and ideology was the Communist Daily Worker. Day opposed its atheism, its advocacy of “class hatred” and violent revolution, and its opponent to private property. The first event of the Catholic Worker asked: “Is it not practicable to be futuristic and not atheist?” and applauded its distribution in Union Square upon May Day as a concentrate on challenge to the Communists. Day defended handing out relief programs once the Civilian Conservation Corps that the Communists ridiculed. The Daily Worker responded by mocking the Catholic Worker for its charity play-act and expressing likeness for landlords subsequently calling evictions morally wrong. In this fight, the Church hierarchy backed Day’s goings-on and Commonweal, a Catholic journal that expressed a broad range of viewpoints, said that Day’s background positioned her skillfully for her mission: “There are few laymen in this country who are so extremely conversant later Communist propaganda and its exponents.” During this time, she became associates with many Catholic authors, including John C. Cort and Harry Sylvester. Sylvester dedicated his fourth novel, Moon Gaffney, to Day and Cort.
Over several decades, the Catholic Worker attracted such writers and editors as Michael Harrington, Ammon Hennacy, Thomas Merton, and Daniel Berrigan. From the publishing enterprise came a “house of hospitality”, a shelter that provided food and clothing to the poor of the Lower East Side and later a series of farms for communal living. The movement speedily spread to additional cities in the United States and to Canada and the United Kingdom. More than 30 independent but affiliated Catholic Worker communities had been founded by 1941.
In 1935, the Catholic Worker began publishing articles that articulated a rigorous and rough pacifist position, breaking behind the conventional Catholic doctrine of just combat theory. The next year, the two sides that fought the Spanish Civil War concerning approximated two of Day’s allegiances, with the Church joined with Franco proceedings radicals of many stripes, the Catholic and the worker at feat with one another. Day refused to follow the Catholic hierarchy in hold of Franco against the Republican forces, which were disbeliever and anticlerical in spirit, led by anarchists and communists (that is, the Republican forces were). She usual the martyrdom of priests and nuns in Spain and said she received the age of chaos she was successful in to require more martyrs:
The paper’s circulation fell as many Catholic churches, schools, and hospitals that had past served as its distribution points withdrew support. Circulation fell from 150,000 to 30,000.
In 1938, she published an account of her political activism transformation into religiously motivated activism in From Union Square to Rome. She recounted her life tab selectively, without providing the details of her early years of “grievous mortal sin” when her excitement was “pathetic, little, and mean.” She presented it as an solution to communist associates and contacts who have asked: “How could you become a Catholic?”:
The Cardinal’s Literature Committee of the New York Archdiocese recommended it to Catholic readers.
In the in advance 1940s, she affiliated afterward the Benedictines, in 1955 professing as an oblate of St. Procopius Abbey, in Lisle, Illinois. This gave her a spiritual practice and connection that sustained her throughout the descend of her life. She was briefly a postulant in the Fraternity of Jesus Caritas, which was inspired by the example of Charles de Foucauld. Day felt unwelcome there and disagreed like how meetings were run. When she withdrew as a candidate for the Fraternity, she wrote to a friend: “I just wanted to let you know that I environment even closer to it all, tho it is not realizable for me to be a recognized ‘Little Sister,’ or formally a part of it.”
Day reaffirmed her pacifism next the U.S. declaration of conflict in 1941 and urged noncooperation in a speech that day: “We must make a start. We must renounce war as an instrument of policy. …Even as I talk to you, I may be guilty of what some men call treason. But we must renounce war. …You youthful men should refuse to take up arms. Young women tear by the side of the patriotic posters. And whatever of you – young and old-fashioned put away your flags.” Her January 1942 column was headlined “We Continue Our Christian Pacifist Stand.” She wrote:
The circulation of the Catholic Worker, following its losses during the Spanish Civil War, had risen to 75,000, but now plummeted again. The closing of many of the movement’s houses not far off from the country, as staff left to associate the battle effort, showed that Day’s pacifism had limited charm even within the Catholic Worker community.
On January 13, 1949, unions representing workers at cemeteries managed by the Archdiocese of New York went on strike. After several weeks, Cardinal Francis Spellman used lay brothers from the local Maryknoll seminary and after that diocesan seminarians below his executive to crack the strike by digging graves. He called the bond action “Communist-inspired.” Employees of the Catholic Worker joined the strikers’ picket line, and Day wrote Spellman, telling him he was “misinformed” about the workers and their demands, defending their right to unionize and their “dignity as men,” which she deemed far more necessary than any dispute roughly wages. She begged him to accept the first steps to resolve the conflict: “Go to them, conciliate them. It is easier for the great to agree than the poor.”
Spellman stood quick until the strike ended upon March 11, when the hold members in style the Archdiocese’s native offer of a 48-hour 6-day put-on week. Day wrote in the Catholic Worker in April: “A Cardinal, ill-advised, exercised for that reason overwhelming a perform of force adjoining the hold of poor working men. There is a temptation of the devil to that most detestable of whatever wars, the lawsuit between the clergy and the laity.” Years later, she explained her stance vis-à-vis Spellman: “[H]e is our chief priest and confessor; he is our spiritual leader – of anything of us who stir here in New York. But he is not our ruler.”
On March 3, 1951, the Archdiocese ordered Day to Stop publication or sever the word Catholic from her pronouncement name. She replied in the tell of a respectful letter that asserted as much right to read out the Catholic Worker as the Catholic War Veterans had to their herald and their own opinions independent of those of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese took no action, and later, Day speculated that perhaps church officials did not want members of the Catholic Worker motion holding prayer vigils for him to relent: “We were ready to amass St. Patrick’s, fill occurring the Church, stand outside it in prayerful meditation. We were ready to accept advantage of America’s freedoms suitably that we could tell what we thought and realize what we believed to be the right issue to do.”
Her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, was published in 1952 in the same way as illustrations by the Quaker Fritz Eichenberg. The New York Times summarized it a few years later:
On June 15, 1955, Day allied a activity of pacifists in refusing to participate in civil excuse drills scheduled that day. Some of them challenged the constitutionality of the law under which they were charged, but Day and six others believed that their refusal was not a authentic dispute but one of philosophy. Day said she was doing “public penance” for the United States’ first use of an atom bomb. They pleaded guilty upon September 28, 1955, but the rule refused to send them to jail, saying, “I’m not making any martyrs.” She did the thesame in each of the neighboring five years. In 1958, instead of taking shelter, she allied a work picketing the offices of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. After some years, the sentences were suspended; on substitute occasion, however, she did assistance thirty days in jail.
In 1956, along taking into consideration David Dellinger and A. J. Muste, two veteran allies in the pacifist movement, she helped found Liberation magazine.
In 1960, she praised Fidel Castro’s “promise of social justice.” She said: “Far greater than before to revolt in a hostile way than to complete nothing roughly the poor destitute.” Several months later, Day traveled to Cuba and reported her experiences in a four-part series in the Catholic Worker. In the first of these, she wrote: “I am most of anything interested in the religious spirit of the people and for that reason must not be upon the side of a regime that favors the extirpation of religion. On the other hand, when that regime is bending all its efforts to make a great life for the people, a naturally great life (on which grace can build) one cannot assist but do its stuff favor of the procedures taken.”
Day hoped that the Second Vatican Council would endorse nonviolence as a fundamental tenet of Catholic computer graphics and denounce nuclear arms, both their use in lawsuit and the “idea of arms brute used as deterrents, to announce a story of terror.” She lobbied bishops in Rome and united with further women in a ten-day fast. She was favorable when the Council in Gaudium et spes (1965), its verification on “the Church in the Modern World,” said that nuclear battle was incompatible with time-honored Catholic just war theory: “Every court case of charge directed to the indiscriminate destruction of collective cities or gigantic areas gone their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits unqualified and unequivocal condemnation.”
Day’s account of the Catholic Worker movement, Loaves and Fishes, was published in 1963.
Despite her anti-establishment sympathies, Day’s judgment of the 60s counterculture was nuanced. She enjoyed it when Abbie Hoffman told her she was the original hippie, accepting it as a form of great compliment to her superiority from materialism. Simultaneously, she disapproved of many who called themselves hippies. She described some she encountered in 1969 in Minnesota: “They are marrying young – 17 and 18, and taking to the woods up by the Canadian attach and building houses for themselves – becoming pioneers again.” But she official in them the self-indulgence of middle-class affluence, people who had “not known suffering” and lived without principles. She imagined how soldiers returning from Vietnam would want to kill them. Still, She thought what the “flower-people” deserved was “prayer and penance.” Day struggled as a leader with distress but without direct authority exceeding the Catholic Worker houses, even the Tivoli Catholic Worker Farm that she visited regularly. She recorded her provocation in her diary: “I have no facility to rule smoking of pot, for instance, or sexual promiscuity, or only sins.”
In 1966, Spellman visited U.S. troops in Vietnam at Christmas, where he was reported as saying: “This warfare in Vietnam is … a suit for civilization.” Day authored a reaction in the January 1967 matter of the Catholic Worker that avoided concentrate on criticism but cataloged everything the accomplishment zones Spellman had visited over the years: “It is not just Vietnam, it is South Africa, it is Nigeria, the Congo, Indonesia, all of Latin America.” Visiting was “a brave event to do,” she wrote, and asked: “But oh, God, what are anything these Americans doing whatever over the world as a result far from our own shores?”
In 1970, at the culmination of American participation in the Vietnam War, she described Ho Chi Minh as “a man of vision, as a patriot, a rebel adjacent to foreign invaders” while telling a checking account of a holiday accretion with family where one needs “to find points of taking over and concordance, if possible, rather than the throbbing differences, religious and political.”
In 1971, Day was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award of the Interracial Council of the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. The University of Notre Dame awarded her its Laetare Medal in 1972. And Franciscan University of Steubenville awarded her, alongside Mother Theresa, its Poverello Medal in 1976.
Despite trouble from destitute health, Day visited India, where she met Mother Teresa and motto her work. In 1971, Day visited Poland, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania as share of a society of peace activists, with the financial hold of Corliss Lamont, whom she described as a “‘pinko’ millionaire who lived modestly and helped the Communist Party USA.” She met later than three members of the Writers’ Union and defended Alexander Solzhenitsyn against charges that he had betrayed his country. Day informed her readers that:
Day visited the Kremlin. She reported: “I was moved to see the names of the Americans, Ruthenberg and Bill Haywood, on the Kremlin Wall in Roman letters, and the make known of Jack Reed (with whom I worked on the old Masses), in Cyrillac characters in a flower-covered grave.” Ruthenberg was C. E. Ruthenberg, founder of the Communist Party USA. Bill Haywood was a key figure in the IWW. Jack Reed was the journalist enlarged known as John Reed, author of Ten Days That Shook the World.
In 1972, the Jesuit magazine America marked her 75th birthday by devoting an entire concern to Day and the Catholic Worker movement. The editors wrote: “By now if one had to choose a single individual to symbolize the best in the objective and perform of the American Catholic community during the last forty years, that one person would definitely be Dorothy Day.”
Day had supported the exploit of Cesar Chavez in organizing California farm laborers from the arrival of his trouble in the mid-1960s. She admired him for being irritated by religious inspiration and functioning to nonviolence. In the summer of 1973, she united Cesar Chavez in his toss around for farm laborers in the fields of California. She was arrested with other protesters for defying an injunction against picketing and spent ten days in jail.
In 1974, Boston’s Paulist Center Community named her the first recipient of their Isaac Hecker Award, given to a person or group “committed to building a more just and peaceful world.”
Day made her last public announce at the Eucharistic Congress held on August 6, 1976, in Philadelphia at a service glorification the U.S. Armed Forces on the Bicentennial of the United States. She spoke practically reconciliation and penance and criticized the organizers for failing to receive that for harmony activists, August 6 is the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, an inappropriate hours of daylight to rave review the military.
Day suffered a heart attack and died upon November 29, 1980, at Maryhouse, 55 East 3rd Street in Manhattan. Cardinal Terence Cooke greeted her funeral procession at the Church of the Nativity, the local parish church. Day was buried in the Cemetery of the Resurrection on Staten Island just a few blocks from the beachside cottage where she first became keen in Catholicism. Her gravestone is inscribed similar to the words Deo Gratias. Day’s daughter Tamar, the mom of nine children, was gone her mother when she died, and she and her father joined the funeral procession and attended a far along memorial Mass the cardinal celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Day and Batterham had remained lifelong friends.