The sainthood Cause for Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, believes it could have all of the documentation prepared at some point next year to send to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
It would represent the culmination of an effort begun informally in 1997, but in earnest in 2002. After that, the process is largely in the Vatican’s hands — but also in God’s.
George Horton, vice postulator of the cause, is doing his work for no pay. Zablotny, his wife, edits the Dorothy Day Guild’s newsletter, and the cause’s only employee, Jeff Korgen, works part time with help from the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and some Archdiocese of New York staff. “Maybe I’m good at delegating,” he chuckled.
Advancing a sainthood cause does not come cheap; most efforts easily run into six figures and sometimes seven — a bit of a conundrum when the object of the cause embraced voluntary poverty. “We’re not like a religious order trying to get their founder canonized. They can draw on the finances of the order, both provisional and staff,” Horton said.
The Vatican has an exacting process for how documents for a sainthood cause are to be prepared. With the help of 50 volunteers who are transcribing every word Day uttered or published, the work is getting done. Korgen estimates it could run up to 30,000 pages once it is completed.
He wouldn’t say if he found any surprises about Day, but Korgen did take exception to the characterization of her pre-Catholic Worker life as “bohemian.”
“Bohemian, bohemian, bohemian. You think about any young adult living in New York City in their 20s. Maybe in their 20s they weren’t talking about big ideas, but she was hanging out with journalists and radicals and talking about making a better world,” Korgen said. “It doesn’t seem to me her lifestyle was all that out of sync with what people today in their 20s do now.”
However, “we see the signs of what she became in her young adult life,” Korgen added. “She would finish one of those long nights drinking with a trip to one of the parishes in Greenwich Village.” After becoming pregnant by her common-law husband, Forster Batterham, she wanted to get married, but he refused.
“He was the love of her life, but he was as stubborn as she was,” Korgen said. “‘We have to get married,’ ‘It’s against my principles.’” Batterham’s next paramour became incurably ill, and he called Day asking for her help. And she complied.
Ellsberg said though Day had gotten an abortion, that should not disqualify her for sainthood. “That gives the idea that abortion is a category of its own and is going to burn in hell forever. That is not the way to represent a Catholic understanding or Christian understanding of sin and salvation. Traditionally, we teach that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. There is nothing we can do that separates us from the love of God if we turn to him with contrite hearts,” he said.
Another contradiction is the oft-repeated quote of Day: “Don’t make me out to be a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”
Zablotny said it is a warning against other’s “abdicating” their call to Christian charity. “She didn’t want people put on a pedestal. Therefore, the works of mercy – Oh, Dorothy can do that, she’s a saint,’ which gets the rest of us off the hook. One of the key insights of Vatican II … is that we’re all called to be saints.”
Full story at The Catholic Herald.