Thursday, when the Congress took place, Pope Francis demonstrated that he knows some important facts about America’s history, due to his historic visit to U.S. he mentioned a few famous Americans – Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King – and two names very important in the history of American religions: Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day.
Who was Dorothy Day?
Dorothy Day is known as the fonder for the Catholic Worker Movement. She dedicated her life to work for social justice. In 1940, Times acclaimed that, “Among U. S. Christians who care for the poor, none are more blessed with selfless zeal than those Roman Catholics who labor in the Catholic Worker movement.”
Dorothy Day was raised as Episcopalian and in her youth she became an agnostic. The birth of her daughter and a relationship led her to the church. In the 1930’s, being in the depths of the Depression she inaugurated the periodical The Catholic Worker and some philosophic ideas to go along with it: anti-government, anti-poverty. pro-union, pacifist. She when so far with hers ideas, being convinced that individuals could be empowered to do good on their own.
Thomas Merton became a Trappist monk and an author who encouraged peace. His focus was parallel to Dorothy Day’s focus. Through writing he shared his philosophic ideas with the world.
When The Seven Storey Mountain was first published. TIME named it a “perceptive, quietly stirring” .
Dorothy Day’s activism was tied to the 1930’s moment when she got her start, focusing on workers and soup kitchens. Thomas Merton was fascinated by Tibetan monastic and Zen Buddhism practices and he participated in protest against the Vietnam War.
Day’s and Merton’s lives took very different paths, but they both had significantly implications on pro=peace activism and anti-poverty. In this case, there’s no wonder why Pope Francis have mentioned their names. Even if Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton are less famous than King and Luther, their names are still important for America’s history.