Catholic Worker Movement

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The Catholic Worker Movement is a collection of autonomous [1] communities of Catholics and their associates founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in the United States in 1933. Its aim is to "live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ". [2] One of its guiding principles is hospitality towards those on the margin of society, based on the principles of communitarianism and personalism. To this end, the movement claims over 240 local Catholic Worker communities providing social services. [3] Each house has a different mission, going about the work of social justice in its own way, suited to its local region.

Dorothy Day American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert

Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. Day initially lived a bohemian lifestyle before gaining public attention as a social activist after her conversion. She was a political radical, perhaps the best known radical in American Catholic Church history.

Peter Maurin Co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement

Peter Maurin was a French Catholic social activist, theologian, and De La Salle Brother who founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933 with Dorothy Day.

Hospitality relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable

Hospitality refers to the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt describes hospitality in the Encyclopédie as the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.

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Catholic Worker houses are not official organs of the Catholic Church, and their activities, inspired by Day's example, may be more or less overtly religious in tone and inspiration depending on the particular institution. The movement campaigns for nonviolence and is active in opposing both war and the unequal global distribution of wealth. Dorothy Day also founded The Catholic Worker newspaper, still published by the two Catholic Worker houses in New York City, and sold for a penny a copy.

Nonviolence philosophy, personal or collective attitude, refusing to legitimate violence and promoting the respect of others in conflicts

Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence. This may be based on moral, religious or spiritual principles, or it may be for purely strategic or pragmatic reasons.

The distribution of wealth is a comparison of the wealth of various members or groups in a society. It shows one aspect of economic inequality or economic heterogeneity.

The Catholic Worker is a newspaper published seven times a year by the Catholic Worker Movement community in New York City. The newspaper was started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin to make people aware of church teaching on social justice. Day said the word "Worker" in the paper's title referred to "those who worked with hand or brain, those who did physical, mental, or spiritual work. But we thought primarily of the poor, the dispossessed, the exploited." When Communism was popular in the United States during the Great Depression, Day and Maurin wanted to teach what they thought was a well kept secret: the very progressive teaching of the church, so that the poor, mostly Catholic, would turn to their own tradition for the solution.

History

The Catholic Worker Movement started with the Catholic Worker newspaper, created by Dorothy Day to advance Catholic social teaching and stake out a neutral, Christian pacifist position in the war-torn 1930s. Day attempted to put her words from the Catholic Worker into action through "houses of hospitality" [4] and then through a series of farms for people to live together on communes. The idea of voluntary poverty was advocated for those who volunteered to work at the houses of hospitality. [5] Many people would come to the Catholic Workers for assistance, only to become Workers themselves. [6] Initially, these houses of hospitality had little organization and no requirements for membership. [7] As time passed, however, some basic rules and policies were established. [8] Day appointed the directors of each of the houses, but tried to maintain autonomy in the actual running of the houses. Because of this policy, the houses varied in both size and character: in the 1930s, the St. Louis Workers served 3400 people a day while the Detroit Workers served around 600 a day. [9]

Catholic social teaching is the Catholic doctrines on matters of human dignity and common good in society. The ideas address oppression, the role of the state, subsidiarity, social organization, concern for social justice, and issues of wealth distribution. Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum novarum, which advocated economic distributism. Its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, and is also derived from concepts present in the Bible and the cultures of the ancient Near East.

Christian pacifism Christian refusal of violence

Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism and that his followers must do likewise. Notable Christian pacifists include Martin Luther King, Jr., Leo Tolstoy, and Ammon Hennacy. Hennacy believed that adherence to Christianity required not just pacifism but, because governments inevitably threatened or used force to resolve conflicts, anarchism. However, most Christian pacifists, including the peace churches, Christian Peacemaker Teams and individuals such as John Howard Yoder, make no claim to be anarchists.

A house of hospitality or hospitality house, in the United States, is an organization to provide shelter, and often food and clothing, to those who need it. Originally part of the Catholic Worker Movement, houses of hospitality have been run by other organizations, including organizations that are not Catholic or Christian. Founded on principals of Christian anarchism, the houses provide hospitality without charge and without requiring religious practice or attendance at services. A variety known as a hospital hospitality house is for families displaced due to medical issues of a family member, and is often located near a medical centre.

The Catholic Worker newspaper spread the idea to other cities in the United States, as well as to Canada and the United Kingdom, through the reports printed by those who had experienced working in the houses of hospitality. [6] More than 30 independent but affiliated communities had been founded by 1941. Between 1965-1980 an additional 76 communities were founded with 35 of these still in existence today, [10] such as the "Hippie Kitchen" founded in the back of a van by two Catholic Workers on Skid Row, Los Angeles in the 1970s. [11] Well over 200 communities exist today, including several in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden. [12]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Co-founder Dorothy Day, who died in 1980, is currently under consideration for sainthood by the Catholic Church. [13]

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

In literature, in Michael Paraskos's 2017 novel, Rabbitman, a political satire prompted by Donald Trump's presidency, the heroine, called Angela Witney, is a member of an imagined Catholic Worker commune located in the southern English village of Ditchling, where the artist Eric Gill once lived. [14]

Michael Paraskos, FHEA, FRSA is a novelist, lecturer and writer on art, and is the son of the Cypriot émigré artist Stass Paraskos. He has written several non-fiction and fiction books and essays, and articles on art, literature, culture and politics for various publications including Art Review, The Epoch Times and The Spectator magazine. In the past he has reviewed art exhibitions for BBC radio, curated exhibitions, and taught in universities and colleges in Britain and elsewhere. He has a particular focus on modern art, having published books on the art theorist Herbert Read, and he is also known for his theories connecting anarchism and modern art. He lives in West Norwood in south London.

Donald Trump 45th and current president of the United States

Donald John Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality.

Ditchling village in United Kingdom

Ditchling is a village and civil parish in the Lewes District of East Sussex, England. The village is contained within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park; the order confirming the establishment of the park was signed in Ditchling.

Beliefs of the Catholic Worker

"Our rule is the works of mercy," said Dorothy Day. "It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence."

According to co-founder Peter Maurin, the following are the beliefs of the Catholic Worker: [15]

  1. gentle personalism of traditional Catholicism.
  2. personal obligation of looking after the needs of our brother.
  3. daily practice of the Works of Mercy.
  4. houses of hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need.
  5. establishment of Farming Communes where each one works according to his ability and receives according to his need.
  6. creating a new society within the shell of the old [16] with the philosophy of the new.

The radical philosophy of the group can be described as Christian anarchism. [17] [18] Anne Klejment, a history lecturer at the University of St. Thomas, wrote of the movement:

The Catholic Worker considered itself a Christian anarchist movement. All authority came from God; and the state, having by choice distanced itself from Christian perfectionism, forfeited its ultimate authority over the citizen... Catholic Worker anarchism followed Christ as a model of nonviolent revolutionary behavior... He respected individual conscience. But he also preached a prophetic message, difficult for many of his contemporaries to embrace. [19]

Family involvement in the Catholic Worker movement

Families have had a variety of roles in the Catholic Worker movement. [20] Because those donating funds to the houses of hospitality were primarily interested in helping the poor, the higher cost of maintaining a volunteer family (as opposed to maintaining an individual volunteer) conflicted with the wishes of those donating. [21] Author Daniel McKanan has suggested that, for a variety of reasons, Dorothy Day's perspective on family involvement in the movement was controversial. [20] Despite these elements of conflict, families have participated in the Catholic Worker movement through multiple avenues: some assist the houses of hospitality while others open up a "Christ room" in their homes for people in need. [22] There are many other opportunities for family involvement in the Catholic Worker as well, with some families running their own houses of hospitality. [23]

See also

Similar Christian movements

Related Research Articles

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Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that claims anarchism is inherent in Christianity and the Gospels. It is grounded in the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable—the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus. It therefore rejects the idea that human governments have ultimate authority over human societies. Christian anarchists denounce the state, believing it is violent, deceitful and, when glorified, idolatrous. Christian anarchists hold that the "Reign of God" is the proper expression of the relationship between God and humanity. Under the "Reign of God", human relationships would be characterized by divided authority, servant leadership, and universal compassion—not by the hierarchical, authoritarian structures that are normally attributed to religious social order. Most Christian anarchists are pacifists—they reject war and the use of violence.

Ammon Hennacy American Christian radical

Ammon Ashford Hennacy was an American Christian pacifist, anarchist, social activist, member of the Catholic Worker Movement, and Wobbly. He established the Joe Hill House of Hospitality in Salt Lake City, Utah and practiced tax resistance.

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Joe Hill House

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Ade Bethune Catholic Worker artist

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Thomas C. Cornell is an associate editor of the Catholic Worker. He is a deacon in the Catholic Church. He is retired and living at the Peter Maurin Farm in Marlboro, New York.

References

  1. Robert Waldrop, "About the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House," JustPeace.org. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  2. "The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker". Catholicworker.org.
  3. "Catholic Worker Movement". Catholicworker.org.
  4. Piehl 1982, p. 96.
  5. Piehl 1982, p. 98.
  6. 1 2 Piehl 1982, p. 107.
  7. Piehl 1982, pp. 98–99.
  8. Piehl 1982, p. 106.
  9. Piehl 1982, p. 110.
  10. Dan McKanan, Catholic Worker After Dorothy, 2008. pp 75-76
  11. Streeter, Kurt (April 9, 2014). "A couple's commitment to skid row doesn't waver". Los Angeles Times .
  12. "Directory of Catholic Worker Communities" . Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  13. Gibson, David (November 14, 2012). "Saint Dorothy Day? Controversial, Yes, But Bishops Push for Canonization". The Huffington Post .
  14. Michael Paraskos, Rabbitman (London: Friction Fiction, 2017) ISBN   9780995713000
  15. Maurin, Peter. "What the Catholic Worker Believes".
  16. The concept of "a new society within the shell of the old" appeared in the preamble to the constitution of the IWW, though there not given a religious rationale
  17. Cornell, Tom (May 2010). "In Defense of Anarchism". Catholic Worker . LXXVII (77th Anniversary Issue): 4–5.
  18. Prentiss, Craig R. (2008). Debating God's Economy: Social Justice in America on the Eve of Vatican II. p. 74. Subsidiarity and its value in promoting the philosophy of personalism was also key to undergirding perhaps the most distinctive element of the CW ideology, its Christian anarchism
  19. Klejment, Anne; Coy, Patrick (1988). A Revolution of the heart: essays on the Catholic worker. Temple University Press. pp. 293–294.
  20. 1 2 McKanan 2007a.
  21. McKanan 2007a, p. 94.
  22. McKanan 2007b, p. 154.
  23. McKanan 2007b, p. 158.

Sources

Further reading