Dr. Ed Peters takes a “canonical look” at Dorothy Day’s causa

Good timing, in light of today’s feature article on Day, from the good Dr. Peters:

The causa of Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897-1980) occasions many questions for ecclesiastical leadership, some of them canonical.  I can suggest three: Day’s abortion, her alleged status as a Communist, and her apparent conflicts with New York’s Cardinal Spellman over the title of her newspaper, The Catholic Worker.

Abortion. Day’s abortion is not a canonical objection to her elevation, as the killing occurred nearly a decade before her 1927 conversion to Catholicism (from Episcopalianism), that is, before Day was bound by 1917 CIC 2350 with its penalty of excommunication. Thus, Days’ repentance for the deed (which she clearly expressed many times) and Confession of the sin (likely offered in her first Confession, celebrated the day after her reception into the Church) would have adequately addressed this tragedy as far as canon law is concerned.

Communism. Day’s status as a Communist is unclear, but by late 1949 she was clearly describing herself as an “ex-Communist”.

Continue reading the post on the “In the Light of the Law” blog.


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About Carl E. Olson 1121 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.