The Pope Gave A Shout-Out To A Woman With An Amazing Story

In his speech before Congress on Thursday, during the second day of his first-ever trip to the United States, Pope Francis began by calling out four inspiring Americans. Contrary to what lots of people on Twitter thought, none of those people was Hollywood icon Doris Day.
Advertisement

But they weren't that far off. Early in his address, the pontiff said, "I would like to mention four…Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton." The woman named Day that he did mention, though she never won an Academy Award, is a pretty amazing and perhaps unlikely woman to get a papal shout-out.

Dorothy Day, born in 1897, was an American writer and a liberal Catholic activist. She helped establish the Catholic Workers Movement and believed fiercely that the redistribution of wealth could solve some of society's greatest woes. She called herself a socialist but eschewed the Communist Party, especially when it attacked her religious zeal. The Catholic Church refers to her with the official title Servant of God, which effectively means she's shortlisted for sainthood.

But she wasn't always an almost-saint. As a religious and political leader, Day may have been inimitable, but her life was marked by mishaps, imperfections, and what the Catholic Church would undoubtedly call sin. Dorothy Day had extra- and premarital affairs. She married twice. Around 1920, she had an abortion. She was not wed at the time, so she fled to Europe to find herself. Today, the pope mentioned her anyway.

Dorothy Day had extra- and pre-marital affairs. She married twice. She had an abortion. Today, the Pope mentioned her anyway.

Forgiveness for sins is a central part of Catholic teaching. Day converted to Catholicism in 1927. But given the number of women the pontiff could have chosen — nuns and pious ladies who never deviated much from the path — it's hard to believe his choice of Day isn't sending a message.

"The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding," the pope said, "these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice — some at the cost of their lives — to build a better future."

For all their many differences and limitations is maybe the key idea behind Pope Francis' appeal to many. People are complex, they make mistakes, and though the church hasn't changed its definition of sin, Francis' papacy has advocated a new era of flexibility and forgiveness — for us and for women like Dorothy Day.


Advertisement

More from Politics

The day after the debate, instead of shifting away from the issue, the GOP nominee doubled down on his weight-shaming comments. And on Friday, he took the ...
Election Day lasts just one day — a 24-hour culmination of the seemingly never-ending campaign season. But we’ll spend the next two, four, six years ...
GOP front-runner Donald Trump has gotten a lot of flak for some of the ridiculous statements he's made this campaign season, including that women who seek ...
If the chaotic party politics of the 2016 election have left you feeling completely birdbrained, this video is for you. The Founding Fathers (presented ...
Ebling has been by her friend's side through marriages, births, deaths — all the ups and downs of life. But she never expected her old playmate to be just ...
1. Major News: One person died in a Hoboken, NJ, train crash and more than 100 were injured. A commuter train crash on Thursday morning injured more ...
The Final Five are national treasures. They're basically a collection of perfect, perfectly happy humans. And who wouldn't be, especially after turning in ...
Throughout history, Americans have used activism as a tool to seek positive change in communities and in government. That's no different today. With ...
1. Here At Home: A teenager killed his father before opening fire at a school in South Carolina where he wounded two students and a teacher. ...
California passed a law Wednesday removing the state's 10-year statute of limitations for filing of child molestation and rape charges. Governor Jerry ...
Monday night was the personification of media bias and rigged politics
If you had to describe the current political climate in America, what word would you choose: volatile, toxic, or divisive? Perhaps all of the above. ...
Hillary Clinton has been a role model for our generation for years, and now she’s laying out a master class in taking on workplace sexism
1. Major News: A bill to prevent the government from shutting down and to fund the fight against Zika was stalled in the Senate. With a 45-55 vote, the...