Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily.
November 27, 2012 10:19 PM   Subscribe

“I am convinced [Dorothy Day] is a saint for our time,” Cardinal Dolan said at the bishops’ meeting. She exemplifies, he said, “what’s best in Catholic life, that ability we have to be ‘both-and’ not ‘either-or.’ ”

"When Cardinal Dolan talks about why he supports Day, he tends not to mention her arrests at protests of nuclear weapons or at a farm labor protest with Cesar Chavez. Instead, he describes her as a sinner whose life was transformed when she converted".

Day's legacy includes over 200 Catholic Worker communities across the world. The Catholic Worker newspaper she co-founded with Peter Maurin is still published seven times yearly.

While Day herself has been quoted as saying not to call her a saint, Robert Ellsberg, compiler of her journal and letters, writes that "Dorothy's own relationship with saints was anything but cynical"
posted by ActionPopulated (28 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
From the NYT article:

“It is an opportunity for him to demonstrate that conservative Catholics are not uncaring, without accepting liberal principles in how you service the poor,” said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a conservative antidefamation organization. “She was not, like many liberal Catholics today, a welfare state enthusiast.”

The conservatives do not get to appropriate Dorothy Day. She wasn't an any kind of state enthusiast. She was a no state at all enthusiast.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:33 PM on November 27, 2012 [19 favorites]

Catholic worker, represent! The Plowshares movement she and the Berrigans inspired brought a lot of brave, crazy, and downright stubborn Catholic Workers on top of nuclear missile silos. I met some of these workers that at the Chicago NATO protests this year in fact. Glad to see this on the front page!
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 10:35 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I wonder if Day was the first of these progressive Catholics to be made seriously an official saint because of her intellectual work originating the whole garment idea, about life from "natural" birth to "natural" death. It's an idea that allows both young Catholics and young evangelicals to consider anti-abortion work to be morally equal to feeding the poor or agitating for social change. It also reduces the complexity of her life's work to one issue--but moral theologians in the West have been good about that, of late.

It kind of makes me sad, because it makes me feel like this difficult, prickly woman has been hijacked. I also think that in the original sense of the word--that she is a saint, that a culture devotion has grown up around her. (Frankly, the work around Edith Stein and her canonization when the critiques of the Vatican's rship to WWII seem similar; as does the recalcitrance to make Merton or Weil saints).
posted by PinkMoose at 10:37 PM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm not sure Dolan has the moral authority to endorse anything.

Gooby, pls
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:56 PM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]

Kinda wish Dolan wasn't the headline here. Maybe we can ignore that part. Dorothy deserves better. She was a very strong influence on me in my youth, and I still think people should read her more.
posted by koeselitz at 11:07 PM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh Lord, please never let the Catholic Church think I am worth a damn.
posted by telstar at 11:44 PM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Her life is one thing - what miracles has she come up with so far?
posted by Segundus at 2:49 AM on November 28, 2012

Dorothy Day does not fit comfortably into what Americans would consider either conservative or liberal.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:43 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

I don't think he properly vetted the candidate.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2012

I don't know much about Dorothy Day, but Dorothy Mantooth is definitely a saint.
posted by surplus at 5:06 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

ActionPopulated: "
"When Cardinal Dolan talks about why he supports Day, he tends not to mention her arrests at protests of nuclear weapons or at a farm labor protest with Cesar Chavez. Instead, he describes her as a sinner whose life was transformed when she converted".

Interesting. So he wants her canonized because of her faith, and not her works? Isn't that a little backwards?
posted by notsnot at 5:13 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Cardinal Dolan is not fit to sweep Dorothy Day's floor. An amazing woman lauded by a disgusting man.
posted by spitbull at 5:28 AM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Dear Cardinal Dolan,

You're trying too hard. This is not some obscure peasant who lived 400 years ago; this is someone well known, who lived in the 20th century and whose life is well documented. In other words, you can't pretend the inconvenient parts of her life didn't happen. Please stop.


Non-ignorant Catholics Everywhere
posted by tommasz at 5:33 AM on November 28, 2012 [12 favorites]

Dorothy Day is an authentic saint, as are many other unknown people living a life of principal and radical caring for others. She stood up to power for the poor and for peace at all times, not just when it was popular or comfortable. It was her works and the work she established that still goes on that was remarkable. Her faith was her private business and her way of coping with the difficulties of life, and she never sought sainthood or ecclesiastical honors. So many more worthy people than Dolan, of for that matter most Catholic Bishops, should be praising her, and no, Dolan is not fit to sweep her floor or speak her name. It is a shame she is being used by those in the Catholic church whose uncompassionate agenda she would have largely disagreed with were she still here.
posted by mermayd at 5:43 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

I work at a Catholic Worker free clinic. Before we open, we always have a short reading from a small book of inspiring material, and by coincidence yesterday's reading was by Dorothy Day:
What we would like to do is to change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute – the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor in other words – we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We can give away an onion. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.
After the reading, I brought up that Dolan was now in support of her canonization. The clinic director, who built the clinic in the '90s and lived in CW houses in California before that, made a dismissive gesture. Dolan might get behind Dorothy's cause, but there are too many readings like the one above for him to change it.
posted by The White Hat at 5:49 AM on November 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

Cardinals LOL.

As someone who grew up Catholic (confirmed, communed, confessed, baptized, even an altar boy for a year) until my mother (who was a Catholic Worker in fact) had enough and switched to the Orthodox Christian church (when I was a young teenager, right as I discovered my lack of faith, thank you Science!) I get to say this: I don't know how anyone in good conscience can remain affiliated with the institutional RC church now. It's a wicked, sinful global crime ring, not a faith. And Dolan is a made man. If you still give money at collection, please consider stopping. This election showed these guys have no intention whatsoever of changing their ugly hypocritical profoundly un-Christian stripes.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 AM on November 28, 2012

Day and Maurin: the very, very best of the Catholic Church. Those who are at all familiar with them know that they don't need to be canonized for their legacy to survive.

They were always independent thinkers: they broke with many on the left during World War II because of their staunch pacifism (they didn't believe that the Church's conditions for a "just war" had been met). Day's response to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is here.

If the Church and more Catholics were like these two, I'd probably still be a churchgoer. I guess that's not the way it works, though; perhaps I need to refresh myself on the four Gospels to remember that. Or maybe not. :-)
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:13 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know how anyone in good conscience can remain affiliated with the institutional RC church now. It's a wicked, sinful global crime ring, not a faith.

Just a thought: there are those with good conscience who believe that it's a lot easier to get the criminals out of the house if you're working from the inside. (Similarly confirmed, communed, confessed, and the lapsed here - but I know many who are still in the church, and this is exactly why they are staying put. )

Even though Day getting canonized would most likely be a political move -- a sop to the liberal Catholics -- I do kind of hope it happens; because it will still be just one tiny crack through which the side of the angels can get in.

Actually, what I really wanna see would be Father Berrigan canonized someday; because that would make a lot of people's heads explode.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 AM on November 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is the same Church that reprimanded a group of American nuns for "focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage"? Okay.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

On tension that may be hard for us to understand in our political context, is the link between economic justice and social conservatism. A responsible Catholic might see how market forces diminish the worth human action, reduce people to consumers, and make our lives disposable.

The Catholic Church could argue that sexual liberation has merely meant that our sexual lives are now ordered by the sorts of criteria that give capitalism it's dynamic - the desire to have more, to consume, to be constantly stimulated. Is it a fair critique? Don't know. It's worth arguing about. Several social theorists (Christopher Lasch for example) have argued such.

Day would have identified that part of our inability to say "enough" to understand our actions have consequences, could be lain directly at the feet of an economy that has no limits to human desire. As the hierarchy of the Catholic Church makes peace with people who follow the teachings of Ayn Rand, it loses the foundations by which it attempts to critique an economy that contributes to making lives disposable. But liberals may not like how this could extend to some common conclusions about our personal lives.

We may not like the confinements of saying "enough," though our greed and complacency is threatening the planet. And thought she would have had a lot to say and our choices, but I don't think many of us would feel comfortable with what she said. It may explain why so few people choose the road she traveled. She may have been pro-life, but she may have argued that it is the consequence being in a culture that is institutionally anti-family.

Anyway, from my perspective, the restaurants are great in "Babylon;" I'm glad that I'm not confined by the sexual mores of forty years ago. I enjoy the fruits of the market system without guilt.

I love Day, but I'm still glad I'm an Episcopalian.
posted by john wilkins at 6:51 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

In a post about Dorthy Day, could we maybe focus on her? There are Catholics out there (like me) that don't even like broadcasting they are Catholic because people may jump to conclusions (I've struggled as I'm pro-choice, socially liberal, believe in social justice and science; the last two which are not in conflict with Catholicism). The rituals are a big part of my childhood, and thinking about my week and life every week in a formal environment (e.g., church) makes me a better person (it may not work that way for you and that's all good). Yes, I'd love to change the bureaucracy, and I hope in the next twenty years it goes back towards having more people like Dorthy Day, and less corruption, and they finally pick a Pope that isn't 80. But like any really large old organization it has it's good and bad parts. The organization is not the religion. If you want Christians (and Catholics by extension) to actually act like Christians, then it may help to support the good ones, rather than critiquing the bad ones even when we're talking about the good ones.
posted by ejaned8 at 6:53 AM on November 28, 2012 [12 favorites]

I was confused. I thought this was about Doris Day. I was wondering what Doris did to become a saint, I mean The Man Who Knew Too Much was a pretty good movie, but come on!
posted by SpannerX at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wish it was easier to find writers like Merton & Day. Pop psychologists get tons of attention, but real people with important thoughts are out of sight.

Like ejaned8, I, too, don't advertise as a Catholic much, and it pains me because there are so many people -- starting with Day -- to be proud of.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:59 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well, I don't really care who is recommending that Dorothy be made a saint. People wring their hands about her being "co-opted," but I don't know if that's really possible. When someone is canonized, it's for all time, not just for this particular moment with its particular political sentiments. Dorothy Day deserves to be remembered that way.
posted by koeselitz at 8:22 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know how anyone in good conscience can remain affiliated with the institutional RC church now. It's a wicked, sinful global crime ring, not a faith.

You can say the same thing about any powerful human organization.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

The sentence that struck me most powerfully in the nytimes article was this: "In her radical rejection of government — Day believed all states were inherently totalitarian — the bishops see echoes of their fight with the Obama administration over health care."

No no no no no. There is a world of difference between establishing a free clinic independent of the government in a neighborhood with dire needs, and rejecting government involvement in health care entirely.

In honor of all of the publicity around Day's canonization, I finally busted out my copy of her memoir, The Long Loneliness today. I'm not too far in yet, but I couldn't resist flipping ahead to the end, where I encountered a passage I've read in other places and loved:

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know
each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship. We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that loves comes with community.
It is my understanding that many opponents of so-called "Obamacare" base their opposition on individualistic ideas about "personal responsibility." Day's sentiments seem entirely incompatible with that kind of relentless individualism.
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:36 PM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

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