This week our U.S. Congress passed its largest military budget of all time. A collective grave sin of empire, what this nation was founded to stand against. In contrast, last night in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Timothy Dolan waves his crosier to the humble Catholic Workers in the pews at the ending of mass dedicated to Dorothy Day, co-founder of their movement since 1933 to feed, clothe, listen to, and bear witness with the poor and oppressed.
On the altar on this night, after many years of scholarship and investigation by the Dorothy Day Guild, the Cardinal ceremoniously sealed the last of dozens of boxes, full of the evidence and burden of proof for her sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Dolan shared that when Pope Francis visited the Cathedral in 2015, the seed for this night’s harvest was planted. Just days before, Pope Francis had become the first Pope to address the U.S. Congress. In that address he called out Dorothy Day’s name not once, but 4 separate times. Most our Representatives went to their phones to see who this woman was.
Two years later, Pope Francis would open the Conference for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would go on with the inspired mighty work of a majority of nations in the world to become a Treaty. Despite the nuclear weapon nations protesting, and our media ignoring and minimizing it, on January 22nd, 2021 The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons received enough ratifications to become International Law.
In 1945 upon hearing of Hiroshima, Dorothy Day would be one of the very few Americans to protest this new omnicidal device and immediately published, asking us to reflect on the innocents life taken instead. She would stand up against these weapons specifically, and militarism and war generally, for the following decades until the day she left this world.
On January 21st, 2019, New York City held its full house Public Hearings in City Hall for its Council’s legislation to support and join this Ban Treaty and call for the divestment from the industry. Dorothy’s granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, was in prison along with 6 other Catholic Workers for nonviolent civil disobedience, for entering our Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base in Georgia, where enough firepower was housed to destroy the earth several times over. “Love One Another” was and remains their “dangerous” message of activism. Joanne Kennedy, a Catholic Worker from Dorothy’s home, Maryhouse, would present Martha’s testimony to the City Council on her behalf, along with that of 70 other dedicated citizens. Recently free, Martha was able to share the reading for this profound, deeply moving and full of hope occasion last night from the Cathedral’s pulpit.
Perhaps some of Dorothy’s lifelong message might break through? With the crozier held high, a victory amidst the terrible darkness!
On the very day these boxes of evidence are being shipped to Rome from the Cathedral, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass this legislation. New York City, the home of Wall Street is now standing up to an insane nuclear arms race that is going full speed ahead, for no discernible reason other than shoring up our military spending and pointing fingers at the stereotypes of the other being, “the enemy”. Risking ALL in the process. The NYC Council has stood tall fifteen times since 1963, when it supported President John F. Kennedy’s Nuclear Weapon Test Ban Treaty, which for him was to be only the first step toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons, in his lifetime. Unknown in our given history, JFK was working behind the scenes for this with the full support of “the enemy”, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Neither trusted their own militaries to do the sensible thing. (footnote: James Douglass’s 2008 book, JFK, and the Unspeakable)
If you believe in the power of prayer and a Saint’s intercession on our behalf, as some of us do indeed despite Dorothy said “Don’t call me a saint”, then let’s pray together with her by our side for this miracle: The conversion of our military industrial university congressional complex. She prayed for this since Hiroshima, and also while protesting outside City Hall in 1955, imprisoned for refusing to go along with our atomic bomb civil defense drills.
If you don’t “believe”, Dorothy Day would understand and fully appreciate all you do toward this conversion for our true security and safety, toward humanity’s clear and present needs, if not life itself. The trillions of dollars for this one industry alone, to move instead swiftly toward today’s very real challenges—climate, good jobs, education, healthcare, housing, social and racial justice, infrastructure, needed reforms, the list continues.
Dorothy, we pray for the miracle that our Representatives awake to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and exemplify genuine leadership in a good, beautiful, and deeply suffering world.
“Young Jack Kennedy with his older brother visited Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker before the war and political life.”