The conservative Cardinal Timothy Dolan has seized on a new cause—the canonization of Catholic anarchist, pacifist, pro-labor, and pro-immigrant radical Dorothy Day.
The move is political, of course, as Day was a powerful woman who appealed to both the pro-life side of the church (she had an abortion herself, which she later regretted) and the radical leftist side of the church (she co-founded the Catholic Worker movement, was a self-described anarchist, and accepted Abbie Hoffman's declaration that she was "the first hippie").
Now that the church is splintering between its pro-Vatican right (which Dolan represents to the hilt) and its pro-nun, pro-helping-the-poor left (not to mention the spanking the religious right received in the November elections), it makes sense for a politically ambitious American cardinal to find a bridge cause. But the weirdest thing about Dolan's embrace of Day is his attempt to leverage her anarchist legacy to oppose national health care.
But bishops now say Day’s life resonates with the struggles that they are most engaged in today: the fight against abortion and their concern about government intrusion in their affairs. In her radical rejection of government — Day believed all states were inherently totalitarian — the bishops see echoes of their fight with the Obama administration over health care.
So Dolan supports Day's anti-statism not when it comes to capital punishment or war—when talking about his thoughts regarding President Bush on those two issues, Dolan said "I would have to give him the benefit of the doubt to say that those two issues are open to some discussion and are not intrinsically evil"—but when it comes to health care?
How craven can you get?
Of course, it shouldn't surprise us. This is the same Cardinal Dolan of the infamous $20,000 incentives for sexually abusive priests to leave the vocation (payoffs, not prisons!) and the threats to cut charitable services because of contraception provisions in the national health-care bill.
Day supposedly once said: "Don’t trivialize me by trying to make me a saint." She saw through the machinations of religious leaders like Cardinal Dolan who would canonize someone for their own political gain.