She is clearly America’s proto-progressive Catholic whose work and the movement she founded have played a seminal role in the intellectual arguments used by progressive and liberation theology oriented Catholics over the past several decades; but if the case being made by Dr. Carol Byrne in her book, The Catholic Worker Movement (1933 – 1980) : A Critical Analysis and summarized in this article from Tradition in Action, is true, and I believe it is—then the roots of progressive Catholicism are even more toxic than conservative Catholics have long believed.
An excerpt from the article from Tradition in Action.
“Ever since Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement (CWM) in 1933, the subject of its being a Communist front has become the elephant in the room – something of which CWM aficionados are inwardly aware but which they all agree to outwardly ignore. They have succeeded in circulating the myth, implicitly believed even by members of the clergy who should know better, that Day left Communism behind when she entered the Catholic Church.
“So when Cardinal John O’Connor of New York wrote to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in February 2000 requesting that Dorothy Day’s Cause be introduced, he alleged that after she became a Catholic Dorothy Day was never a member of any “political groups hostile to the Church, for example, Communists, Socialists or anarchists,” and that “she did not approve of their tactics or any denial of private property.”
“From this, we must infer that the Cardinal has been not only misled but is misleading others as authentic documentary evidence exists to prove the falseness of these claims. As far as I know, my book is the first and only study, based on archival sources not previously available to the public, which shows that Dorothy Day, after her conversion to Catholicism, did in fact become a member of several Socialist organizations and was actively involved in political groups whose founders and leaders were predominantly members of the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).
“The book provides details of how Day shared public platforms with high profile Communists including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a paid official of the CPUSA (and later its first woman Chairman), took an active part in an array of Communist-led strikes during the 1930s and ‘40s and used her newspaper, the Catholic Worker (CW), of which she was editor for almost 50 years, as an organ of propaganda in favor of Communism. All this must be considered against the background of the decree issued by the Holy Office in 1949 pronouncing an anathema on any Catholic who cooperated with Communists in any way. The fact that she was able to flout the papal ban against Communist-aiding Catholics merely conferred on her an added mystique among her supporters.
“While declaring herself committed to a non-violent revolution, Day nonetheless supported every Socialist regime around the world regardless of its violent beginnings and inhumane consequences. There is documentary evidence that Day supported the policies of hostile foreign powers operating from Moscow, Havana, Peking and Hanoi against her own country, the USA.”