Dorothy Day/’catholic worker’ and Roman Catholic Authenticity

Dorothy Day, Workers’ Rights and Catholic
David L. Gregory, 1998

By December 1948, the Union had operated under a collective bargaining agreement for two years. Under that contract, workers received $59.40 for a six-day, forty-eight hour week, which typically ran from Monday through Saturday. On December 14, 1948, the Union, with close to 1,000 members, presented its demands for the successor contract, specifically seeking a five-day, forty-hour week for the same $59.40 weekly rate of pay.In addition, the Union asked for overtime pay for working more than eight hours in one day and for any Saturday work. On January 4, 1949, four days after the collective bargaining agreement expired, the Archdiocese rejected all of the Union’s demands and offered a wage increase consonant with the 2.6% annual cost of living increase measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Forty-eight hours after receiving this letter, the rank-and-file voted overwhelmingly to strike…
…On January 13, 1949, the Union established a sixteen-man picket line at the major entrance to the 400-acre Calvary Cemetery.As a result of the walkout, the cemetery could not proceed with the thirty-five burials scheduled that day.Coffins were placed in temporary graves under tarpaulins, awaiting permanent burial upon the conclusion of the strike…
Predictably, Dorothy Day, along with Catholic Worker and ACTU, closely monitored and supported the strike. Because of Day’s insistence that the strike was justified, members of Catholic Worker even joined the picket lines at the cemetery.On March 4,1949, Dorothy Day wrote a very eloquent letter to Cardinal Spellman:
“I am deeply grieved to see the reports .. .of your leading Dunwoodie seminarians into Calvary Cemetery, past picket lines, to “break the strike”…, of course you know that a group of our associates at The Catholic Worker office in New York have been helping the strikers, both in providing food for their families, and in picketing” …
…One commentator summarized: “Dorothy Day was one of the few who publicly supported the Union. She and some of her staff from
Catholic Worker passed out leaflets in front of the Cardinal’s residence and were arrested. The police forbade the gravediggers to picket Spellman’s house.”
On March 3, 1951, two years to the day that Cardinal Spellman led strike breakers into the Calvary cemetery, Monsignor Edward Gaffney asked Dorothy Day to appear at the New York Archdiocesan Chancery office. At that meeting, Dorothy was told that Catholic Worker would have to cease publication, or change the name of the newspaper by deleting the word “Catholic” from the title.

Strike in the Graveyard
Time Magazine
Monday, Mar. 14, 1949

I admit to the accusation of strikebreaker, said the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Francis J. Spellman, “and I am proud of it. If stopping a strike like this isn’t a thing of honor, then I don’t know what honor is.” For three days last week, Cardinal Spellman walked about the 550-acre expanse of crowded Calvary Cemetery in New York City’s Queens supervising his corps of 100 amateur gravediggers. All of them were young students for the priesthood, recruits from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y.

A catholic worker veiw on abortion by Patrick O’Neill, a religion writer and co-founder of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House…Pro-life or pro-choice?
“The trouble with being more than just pro-life” by Patrick O’Neill –
Garner NC CW – NCR March 8, 2012

At a special March for Life Mass in the basilica, Diocese of Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge said he hopes abortion “will be inaccessible, illegal and impossible.” While I want to see abortions decline, I do not share my bishop’s view regarding the possible criminalization of abortion. If abortion were outlawed, what would happen in the case of a woman who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest? My pro-life views are strong, but in those cases, I support a women’s right to choose. I can’t tell an abused or raped woman to follow my moral dictates.


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