American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement

American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement

American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement

American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement

Excerpt

In 1983 when the U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote their historic pastoral letter on war and peace, they singled out the pacifist witness of Dorothy Day, reinforcing what historians of pacifism already knew: that contemporary Catholic pacifism is rooted in the Catholic Worker movement.

Our aim is to provide a systematic and analytical study of the emergence and nature of pacifism in the largest single denomination in the United States, Roman Catholicism. This collection of primarily original essays by scholars and Catholic Worker activists underscores the pivotal role of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement in challenging the Catholic Church, once linked to unquestioning American militarism, to assert its prophetic pacifist voice. American Catholic Pacifism also addresses the variety of religious and secular sources Day drew upon to develop modern Catholic pacifism.

Many of the articles use newly uncovered sources to update and critique existing studies. Previously unpublished letters of Dorothy Day to Thomas Merton are included, as is in-depth coverage of how the contemporary Plowshares movement emerged from the Catholic Worker. Among the activist contributors are Eileen Egan, who provides a participant account of the birth and early years of Pax, the Catholic Worker-inspired peace organization, and James Douglass, who shares personal reflections on how the Catholic Worker influenced the development of his pacifist commitment. Our intention in including chapters by both activists and scholars (and sometimes both) is to provide a balance of perspectives—much as the Catholic Worker has always aimed to reach both “workers and scholars.”

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