The Case for Dorothy Day

At first the idea of Dorothy Day being proclaimed a saint seemed unlikely to say the least. She was a leftist, a pacifist, a critic of bishops, a gadfly to the powerful, a woman who had had an abortion. Hardly the profile of a saint, you might think. But the case for Dorothy Day is gaining strength and support, much of it coming from the efforts of Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, as the Times noted in a piece published yesterday.

Day combined passionate advocacy for social justice with the most fervent and orthodox Catholic piety. She’s being seen as a unifying figure for a Church polarized between contrasting views of what it means to be a Catholic in our contemporary circumstances. That seems right to me. We can rally around such a person, and Dorothy Day fits the profile.


  1. Other than a certain number of miracles performed I don’t know the ins and outs of becoming a saint. Maybe we need a new definition. Maybe Dorothy Day is that new definition. She was first a human being and imperfect in that way we all are imperfect. Didn’t all saints start out human and imperfect? Dorothy Day is a sign of our times. Modern in he faults, but passionate to the end.

  2. These labels – “Catholic left”; “conservative archbishop”; etc. – do nothing to advance sanctity as far as I can see. They inherently divide.
    If Day is an icon of Christ for our contemporary circumstances, then praise God. But her charity and zeal won’t do us any good unless we also change our way of thinking.

    • Agree–labels are a big part of the problem. They confuse and divide us. I hope the example of Dorothy Day can help us transcend them.


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