Dorothy Day - on the road to sainthood but also an anarchist

Is there some cognitive dissonance in the move towards sainthood for Day? I get the impression from many on here that anarchism/libertarianism is anathema
to being a good Catholic.

Pre-conversion Dorothy Day was far different from post-conversion Dorothy Day. I believe she was a living saint, a tireless advocate for the poor and marginalized people, the least of these among whom Jesus places himself.

She claimed** to be an anarchist after her conversion.

God bless this woman! I didn’t know she was an anarchist. How excellent!

That is, as long as she wasn’t involved in bomb-throwing and such. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anarchism supports abolishing the state, not bomb throwing. It is also not anti-hierarchy, anti-Christian or anti-organization.

Wheither or not she was an anarchist after her conversion to Catholicism should be determined during the process of canonization. The Church will review any media directly generated by Miss Day, after conversion, and determine if there is anything that she has published that goes directly against Church teaching. How they would interperet anarchist views I really can’t say. I’m not that well versed in the inner workings of the canonization process.

Personally I don’t see how anarchy can be compatible with being a faithfull catholic. Most of the non-catholic world (and your more progressive catholics) feel that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is one of the most oppressive “governing” bodies in the world. It is in an anarchists nature to want to do away with all forms of authority. Where as a faithfull catholic is called to be obedient to the Church and her hiearchy. So how could a genuine anarchist be able to be obedient to authority of the Church?

Other than that I’m not really familiar with Miss Day’s work, so I can’t really speak more specifically on the topic.

The problem with libertarianism is its denial of the common good. This is not the case with Day–indeed she’s considered too much of a socialist by many. . . .

But from what I understand she didn’t believe in using coercion to solve social problems (I admit that I don’t know anywhere near as much about her as I’d like).


Your understanding of anarchism is incorrect. Anarchism is not inherently against hierarchy. I would call myself an anarchist (or preferably voluntaryist) and have no issue with the authority of the Church. One can be obedient to the Church but view the state as illegitimate.

Denial of the common good to you would be utilitarianism to me. Utilitarianism is an anti-social philosophy at its core as it has no use for individual liberty.

I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you saying that libertarianism is utilitarian?


Sorry, it was poorly written. I think saying something should be done “for the common good” is oftentimes utilitarianism and is used to deprive people of their rights.

Not in the Catholic sense of the term. Gaudium et Spes defines it as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.” (The translation is from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The definition is also cited in the Catechism.)

The difference between Catholic common good and utilitarian greater good is that the common good is something shared by all, to help us become who God created us to be. Utilitarianism first of all reckons only with individuals; secondly is willing to sacrifice some for the good of others (so, if unregulated capitalism produced the greatest benefit for the greatest number, but allowed a few people to die of hunger, Catholic social teaching would reject this as evil, but utilitarianism would accept it as the greatest good); and thirdly tends to define “good” in terms of pleasure or at least absence of discomfort, or some other subjective and individualistic measure.


Her story is a progressive enthusiasm. She’s one of the darlings of the “spirit of Vatican II” set.

Do you have any substantive criticism to offer?


Oh please! LOL Some of you people need to relax, so what if she didn’t like capitalism? Might as well just canonize Ronald Reagan if that is what your looking for in a modern day Saint LOL. This woman advocated for the poor and she should be a saint!

She was a self-proclaimed hippie. I am not even going to discuss the rest because it will make all those who defend her blow a gasket.

I pray that she won’t be canonized in our lifetime, maybe in another, but for the Church to canonize her now I feel would be making more of a political statement than anything else.

Libertarianism has the fortunate quality of being both moral and utilitarian. (Utilitarian in the sense of useful. Liberty works better than more totalitarian systems)

Her political views are not the real problem. There’s another detail that’s far more serious.

No, they are against things they are forced to take part in such as the state (taxation is theft and all that fun) whereas the Church is joined voluntarily and can be “left” voluntarily.

How is that?

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