Dorothy Day has been called many things. After her death in 1980, David O’Brien, writing in Commonweal, called her “the most important, interesting, and influential figure in the history of American Catholicism.” At the time, that might have seemed an audacious claim. And yet, it was amazingly prescient. Thirty-six years later it seems not only plausible, but undoubtedly true.
Obviously, there have been many other very interesting and influential American Catholics in the last 200 years. But it would be hard to think of another American Catholic who so radically recalled the Church to its Gospel roots, while at the same time pointing exactly toward the agenda that Pope Francis has outlined for the Church in the 21st century.
In the priorities he proposed before the 2013 conclave, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio spoke of the need for the Church to step outside of itself, to go to the margins and the peripheries, to touch the wounds of Christ. He has shown what that means in a Church that confronts the social structures of sin, works for peace and ecological wholeness, and embodies a spirit of mercy and reconciliation. Simply put, that is the vision that Day embodied.
Why Dorothy Day?
Source: Dorothy Day: Model of Mercy