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Pope writes preface to book on Dorothy Day


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Dorothy Day

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/20/23

This is another occasion that Pope Francis has expressed his admiration of the American Servant of God.

When Pope Francis visited the US Congress in 2015, he spoke about four Americans. One of those was Dorothy Day. (The other three were Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Thomas Merton.)

On that occasion, the Pope noted how:

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.

Now the Holy Father has again expressed his admiration for Servant of God Dorothy Day, this time writing the preface to an Italian translation of her autobiography.

Vatican News has a summary of what he wrote:


In his preface to the Italian translation of Dorothy Day’s autobiography, Pope Francis recalls how she arrived at Christian faith from “the grace that flows from charity, the beauty that flows from witness, and love that is expressed concretely” through service, more than any human efforts or strategies. He recalled how Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church grows through attraction, not by proselytism, and we see this in Dorothy Day’s conversion, life, and witness.

Declared a Servant of God in 2000, American Dorothy Day (1897-1980) dedicated her life to social justice and human rights, especially the poor, exploited workers, marginalized by society.

The Pope paid tribute to her life witness writing that we can all learn from her restlessness, her understanding of the Church, and how she served others.

Always searching

Describing the restlessness of Dorothy Day, the Pope writes about her path from abandoning religious practice to discovering it once again, as she was always searching and open to the spiritual quest that led her to rediscover faith in God, seeing it as the fulness of life and the way to happiness. Dorothy came to see God as not only our consolation, but the fulfillment of our desire for meaning and joy.

The Pope writes how “the Lord longs for restless hearts, not bourgeois souls who are satisfied with what exists.”  He explains how God gives us “the fire of divine love that brings to fruition what is beautiful, true and right dwelling in the heart of every person.” Dorothy Day’s path shows us “an adventure that is good for the heart,” the Pope writes, in responding to and accepting God’s love for us. 

The Church, leading us to God

The Pope then looked at the beautiful words Dorothy Day had for the Catholic Church, despite the failings and weakness of its members. “As her adherence to the truths of faith grew, so did her consideration of the divine nature of the Catholic Church,” the Pope writes. But she recognized the weaknesses of Church members with an “honest and enlightened attitude” that could still see clearly the big picture of “the vocation and identity of the Church: a divine, not human reality which leads us to God and with which God can reach us.”

Service expressing God’s love

Dorothy Day’s concrete outreach to assist others as an activist and a journalist “became a sort of ‘highway’ with which God touched her heart,” the Pope writes. And she shows how the struggle for justice offers a way to realize God’s dream of a reconciled humanity. The Pope adds that even today believers and non-believers can be “allies in promoting the dignity of every person when they love and serve the most abandoned persons.”

Pope Francis
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