Was Dorothy Day a ‘dissenting Catholic’?

New Book Explores Day’s Life and Thought as a Servant of Christ

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A woman recognized by name by Pope Francis in 2015 who “shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people,” Dorothy Day was a force in her time, advocating for the poor and living out the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. But many people saw her — and still do today — as challenging the Catholic Church on its teachings of social justice.
But Day was an obedient servant and demonstrated the Church’s love of the poor, which professor Terrence Wright details in his new book, Dorothy day: an Introduction to Her Life and Thought.
Wright, Ph.D., an associate professor of philosophy and director of the pre-theology program at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, uses many of Day’s own writings to reveal her love of the Catholic faith and will to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy through her founding of the Catholic Worker Movement.
In the book, Wright addresses the misconceptions about what many have noted to be dissent from the Catholic Church. In reality, Day, whose cause for possible canonization is sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, was a faithful servant to the Church’s teachings on everything from sexual morality to social justice. Battling a dark period in her life, in which she had an abortion and attempted suicide, Day let the love of Christ penetrate her heart and converted to the Catholic faith.
She went on to become a founder of the Catholic Worker Movement with the help of Peter Maurin, and lived in intentional poverty with her own daughter, Tamar, in their hospitality homes, performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Dorothy day: an Introduction to Her Life and Thought explores her life with a brief biography but focuses more on her thinking and commitment to her faith.
“Dorothy Day was a woman passionately committed to the truth about the dignity of the human person and to justice for the cause of the oppressed,” said Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., author of The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows. “I highly recommend this book about her inspiring life that shows the light of her strong faith in Christ shining in the darkness of human misery.”

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