Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: HH Brownsmith
Last month, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to move forward with Dorothy Day’s canonization process.1 These proceedings are notoriously slow but Dorothy’s has been rightfully measured. Throughout her life, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement expressed resistance to being recognized as a saint. She had a myriad of reasons for being uncomfortable with the title, including the belief that all people are called to be saints and that the canonized are easily written off. She feared sainthood would both trivialize her work and make it seem impossibly difficult.
For a long while, members of the Catholic Worker movement made her opposition to canonization known and fought against the process. However, in the last 15 years some Workers have stepped forward to promote the cause of canonization with the reasoning that what is done posthumously is not for the dead but is for the living. I find this reasoning irreverent and as a person who spent time living in a CW house I strongly oppose canonization for Dorothy. But I do not intend to expound on her “Don’t call me a saint” quotes. Dorothy was clear about her wishes.
The histories and motives of clergy members who have promoted Dorothy’s formal recognition are in need of further analysis. National Public Radio touched on this topic briefly last week but failed to go into detail about the lives of the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.2 Both men have done substantial work to put Dorothy in the Church spotlight.
By: Brenna Cussen Anglada
The epic movie “Reds” is based on the lives of the American socialist, journalist, and revolutionary Jack Reed (the only American to be buried at the Kremlin) and his wife and fellow writer, Louise Bryant. While the movie focuses heavily on the tumultuous and romantic relationship of the two characters, it also chronicles how Reed, along with his contemporary Emma Goldman, first ardently supported, and then became disillusioned by, the Bolshevist revolution in Russia. Watching the movie again last week, I was struck how this theme seems to play itself over and over in human history: passionate and well-meaning revolutionaries try to bring justice to the world—either through structural change, or violence, or both—but despite their best intentions, the institutions of power, in one form or another, ultimately prevail. Today there are social movements all around the globe attempting to bring about a better world—from voting in the “right” president or working through the international community, to blowing up buildings, buses, bridges, and dams or picking up arms and starting a rebellion. Behind all of these efforts exists compelling enthusiasm, righteousness, energy, and a willingness to sacrifice lives—both their own and others—for the sake of the cause. While I understand and often support the basic motivation of these activists (to ease suffering and restore justice) I find myself wary of the fundamental lack of hope their actions belie. Like for the characters in “Reds,” their admirable desire to create a perfect world eventually turns into desperation, because they believe that if they don’t do it, nobody will, and if justice is not achieved here on earth, it will never be achieved.
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