In his address to Congress this morning, Pope Francis singled out four Americans, who, in his words, “offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality.” The pope mentioned Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, and two lesser-known American catholic converts: Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, both 20th century social activists.
Day, born in Brooklyn in 1897, lived a bohemian life, working as a journalist for a time for the Staten Island Advance. She wrote feature articles and book reviews for several Catholic publications. She also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin, based on an affair she had with a man in the early 1920s which resulted in her having an abortion. In the early 1940s she joined the Order of St. Benedict as an oblate.
“In these times when social concerns are so important,” said the Pope this morning, “I cannot fail to mention the servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.”