Patrick Craine


U.S. Bishops back sainthood cause of post-abortive woman

Patrick Craine

BALTIMORE, November 16, 2012, ( – At their annual meeting Tuesday, America’s bishops lent their strong endorsement in a unanimous voice vote to the canonization cause of Dorothy Day, a post-abortive convert to Catholicism who is renowned for her work with the poor.

Day had famously said: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is promoting her cause as head of the Archdiocese of New York, said Day was “a saint for our time” and described her life as “Augustinian.”

“She was the first to admit it: sexual immorality, there was a religious search, there was a pregnancy out of wedlock, and an abortion,” he told a press conference. “Her life, of course, like Saul on the road to Damascus, was radically changed when she became introduced to Jesus Christ and His Church.”

Day’s canonization cause was first launched by Cardinal John O’Connor in 2000.

As part of the process, the Church requires a consultation with the regional conference of bishops before it can move forward. After consulting with the bishops in his region, Cardinal Dolan chose to consult the U.S. conference, as well.

Born in Brooklyn in 1897, Day’s family soon moved to San Francisco. They later moved to Chicago, where she was baptized an Episcopalian. She attended college in Illinois but left for New York City to work as a journalist.

There she became a strong social activist in the peace and women’s suffrage movements, and traveled in literary and artistic circles. At the same time, she carried on a series of sexual relationships, procured an abortion, and attempted suicide.

She gave birth to her daughter, Tamar, in 1926 and had a deep conversion to Catholicism.

She began writing for Catholic publications. After meeting Peter Maurin, a French immigrant, in 1932, they launched the Catholic Worker newspaper. Later the two founded a house of hospitality in New York City, the first of many throughout the world.

Day had written about her abortion in her 1924 book The Eleventh Virgin, which she later regretted writing, but in 2011 new details emerged about the horror she had experienced.

In July 2011, America’s Fr. James Martin published remarks by Daniel Marshall, a longtime member of the Catholic Worker movement, about a conversation he had with Day regarding her abortion:

Then Dorothy said, “You know, I had an abortion. The doctor was fat, dirty, and furtive. He left hastily after it was accomplished, leaving me bleeding. The daughter of the landlords assisted me and never said a word of it.  He was [anarchist activist] Emma Goldman’s lover; that’s why I have never had any use for Emma.”

Day is currently given the title “Servant of God” by the Catholic Church, meaning that the Vatican does not object to her canonization cause moving forward.

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