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Archived essays

These essays represent social analysis and commentary on our world from within a Catholic Worker perspective. Each author's views are their own and do not represent a CW "party line."

The Death Penalty by Zac Barnes
Zac asks us if we have stopped believing in the power of love? If we do believe in transforming love than the death penalty makes no sense.
Death Penalty Questions and Answers by Jerry Daoust
Minnesota, one of the few remaining non-death penalty states, is now debating its Govenor's proposal to establish the death penalty. This is a short primer on the issue for everyone, not just Minnesota's citizens.
Baghdad, February 2004 by Tom Cornell
Long-time Catholic Worker Tom Cornell recounts his experiences in Iraq. This is his second trip to the country.
From the Cradle of Civilization -- To the Grave? by Tom Cornell

Long-time Catholic Worker Tom Cornell writes of the many personal encounters he recently had in Iraq, with citizens and religious leaders, Christian and Muslim. We see the human side of life in Baghdad in the shadow of war.

The Challenge of Contemplation by Robert Paul Marco
A reflection on how comtemplation complements the active thrust of the Catholic Worker tradition.
On Dorthy's Day's Induction Into the National Women's Hall of Fame by Martha Hennessy
Her granddaughter recalls Dorothy Day's unswerving leadership on behalf of the poor, peace, and social justice. In the face of our nation unleashing overwhelming force against Iraq, she recalls Dorothy's dissent-"...We must forever renounce war as an instrument of policy."
Dorothy Day's Loving Criticsm of the Church by Jim Allaire
A reflection on how Dorothy Day combined love of the church with criticism of it.Two stories from her life illustrate her approach.
A Catholic Worker Community’s Plea for Prophetic Leadership on Iraq by Winona Catholic Worker Community
A plea for Catholic leaders to raise a prophetic voice in the midst of ready talk of war with Iraq. Whether using just war principles or gospel nonviolence, and in spite of the sex abuse scandal and coverup, a distinctive Catholic voice must be raised.
Book Review: Dorothy Day And the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary Essays by Winifred Whelan
"For anyone who would have liked to meet Dorothy Day, to sit down with her, listen to her life story, and learn her philosophy and theology of life, this book is the opportunity."
Finally Putting Matthew 25 Into Action by Fr. Brooks Ledford
The story of how an Orthodox priest came to serve at a Catholic Worker House in Texas.
Not a Time to Stand Idly By by Matthew R. Smith
A reflection on Mt. 20:60 urging us to resist hopelessness and work for Christ's peace. Includes words from Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
Nightmares and Miracles in Israel/Palestine by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
An eyewitness account of the death and destruction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, tempered with miraculous stories of peacemaking.
The Works of Mercy: Admonishing the Sinner by Rob Marco
A reflection on how to practice the spiritual work of mercy known as "admonishing the sinner" in our contemporary society and its relationship to authentic freedom. Advocates Peter Maurin's Christian Personalism.
Power, Pedophilia, And War: A Catholic Woman's Perspective by Suzanne Belote Shanley
Linking the war on terrorism and the clergy sex-abuse scandal in the Church, Suzanne Belote Shanley questions why activists fail to see the connection. She struggles to understand her role as a Catholic laywoman in a male-dominated hierarchical Church and secular culture and looks to Dorothy Day as an example.
Signs of the Times in Columbia by Sara Nissley
Sara Nessley looks at the violence racking Columbia and its roots in economic exploitation and U.S. support. She also recounts the hopeful work of individuals facing death threats and especially the work of Mennonite Churches.
My Rotten Summer by Scott Kenji Warren
A tongue-in-cheek look at hospitality for all God's creatures.
A Christian Response to Terrorism, War, and by R. Chad Eberhart
An inquiry into how Christians and the U.S. might promote justice in the world without revenge. Ultimately Christians will have to choose to follow Christ or betray him by following our culture.
We Are Still Talking by Tom Cornell
Tom Cornell reminisces about joining the Catholic Worker and some encounters with people and issues during his years there.
Death Penalty Moratorium by Michael Ross
A call to heed papal and U.S. teachings regarding the death penalty and to take responsibility for our government's actions.
Book of Notes - March/April 2002 by Ric Rhetor
Reflections and news about goings-on at the New York Catholic Worker.
Ten Principles for Social Justice Organizing in A Time of Crisis by Bill Quigley
The Only Solution is Love by Harry Murray
A Letter from Shelley Douglass by Shelley Douglass
A meditation on how the horror and grief of the events of September 11th are echoed in the other senseless deaths in Iraq, in Palestine, and in the poverty of so many nations. She asks: "Can we follow our Lord in 2001?"
Nonviolence or Nonexistence by Jim Douglass
A restatement of the nonviolence of Jesus, Gandhi, and King in the face of the choices now facing us and seen against the backdrop of nuclear nonexistence.
The New Evangelization Is Every Christian's Responsibility by Tom Cornell
A homily on the new evangelization and the responsibility of Bishops and all Christians to be mediators of God's truth by ordained Deacon and Catholic Worker Tom Cornell.
Will the FBI Know the Difference Between An Artist And A Terrorist? by Marcus P. B. Page
Even After All This
A statement from the following Catholic Worker Communities: Los Angeles Catholic Worker * Las Vegas Catholic Worker * Orange County Catholic Worker * San Pedro Catholic Worker * High Desert Catholic Worker * Beatitude House Catholic Worker * San Bruno Catholic Worker * Fresno Catholic Worker * Peralta Street Catholic Worker *Magdalene House Catholic Worker * House of Grace Catholic Worker *Norfolk Catholic Worker *Open Door Community * Vera Cruz, Mexico, Catholic Worker
Praying With Muslims by Jim Allaire
A Call to Active Love by Jim Allaire
Planes That Exploded Inside Our Bodies by Jim Forest
Conquering Evil by Matthew R. Smith
A Call To Prayer by Tom Cornell
A reflection by Tom Cornell at an ecumenical prayer service on September 13, 2001 at Marlboro Presbyterian Church, Marlboro, New York.
Combating Terrorism by Bill Thomson
Anarchism in the Catholic Worker Tradition by Tom Cornell

Long-time Catholic Worker Tom Cornell reflects on current and historical meanings of anarchism, some seemingly in contradiction to our usual understanding of the term. He concludes that Catholic Workers should retain the term, provided they "cultivate the charisms of our founders" and "struggle to understand just what that means."

Slices of American Pie by Hillel Arnold

Helping Hondurans rebuild houses after the destruction of hurricane Mitch, Hillel Arnold discovers that corporate America is waging an economic war against the people there. At the same time we are paralyzed by our freedom of choice in the United States. But are we really free?

Eucharistic Love by Art Laffin

In the face of personal sorrow and witness to worldwide acts of violence, Art Laffin appreciates in the eucharist a transforming source of love and forgiveness. Relating the eucharist to Jesus' cross, he discovers how they are intimately related and how they become the source of community and healing.

Interesting Facts - January 2001

Summary: It may be a new millennium, but here's evidence from the public record that governments and corporations continue to behave in absurd ways to the detriment of social justice.

More On the War On Drugs by Sarah Bjorknas

Current policies to control illegal drug usage fail because they do nothing to affect the basic law of supply and demand. Instead of making criminals of users, Sarah Bjorknas argues for a harm reduction approach using safe injection sites, as practiced in other countries.

Lazarus Cries Out by Brendan Walsh

What would our urban social policies look like if Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), and not the rich, was making recommendations? Brendan Walsh addresses issues of urban construction projects, transportation, prisons, hosting the Olympics, and healthy neighborhoods facing Baltimore.

Paz Para Vieques by Jackie Allen-Doucot

Describes a recent peaceful protest on the island of Vieques which the U.S. Navy uses to practice bombing runs. Harm to the people's way of life has so far been ignored by the U.S. authorities.

Interesting Facts - November 2000

Careful attention to facts in the public record reveals an upside-down set of priorities and absurd consequences.

About the Canonization Effort for Dorothy Day by Jim Creskey

Jim Cresky wonders if the canonization effort for Dorothy Day is "playing it a little too fast with the truth." He examines Dorothy Day's life, as both anarchist and Catholic, and Cardinal O'Conner's take on the abortion she had prior to her conversion.

Traditional Catholic Pacifism Versus Modern Variants by Tom Cornell

Tom Cornell, long-time pacifist and friend of Dorothy Day, contrasts traditional Catholic pacifism with modern variants, which he rejects. He argues that just war theory was at the heart of John J. Hugo and Dorothy Day's pacifism, as well as that of the Magisterium. Rich in historical detail.

Interesting Facts - October 2000

Upside-down facts and figures that defy logic about our policies and politics.

Workers. . . Beyond Amnesty by Tricia Smith

Recalling the 1886 Haymarket labor riot in Chicago, Tricia Smith explores today's exploitation of immigrant works by "temping" and day labor agencies.

Sorting Out the Lies by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy

Warmaker's claims of success in the Gulf War and in Yugoslavia are being challenged by new media reports. We can overcome cynicism in the face of lies only through truths of our faith, especially love of enemies.

Interesting Facts - September 2000

Numbing numbers of life and death from the public record.

Finding An Image of Peace In The Midst of War by Marc McGuire
Both sides in the war in the Balkans have resorted to the moral logic of war with distortion of truth running rampant. Finding an image to guide us toward peace is challenging but necessary.
Interesting Facts -- Early Summer 1999
Numbers from the public record that reveal why the world has run amok.
An Open Letter From Pollyanna by Anja Ulanowicz
Responding to snide remarks from friends about her work, Anja vividly describes the concrete reality of providing hospitality to homeless people in a Catholic Worker community, what Dorothy Day described as "harsh and dreadful love."
In Defense of the Absolute by Dave Maciewski
Violence in our time is cloaked in language that conceals and distorts the reality of the evil of war, abortion, and euthanasia, all of which are connected. Discusses two principles for protecting the sanctity of all life.
Interesting Facts - Spring 1999
Interesting, depressing, and occasionally hopeful facts from the public record about how our society orders its priorities.
Undermining Empire: Living the Reign of God in a Fallen World by William O'Brien
Comparing our country's dominating behavior to ancient empires, Will O'Brien asks "How do we respond faithfully to evil in history?" His answer is biblically rooted covenantal communities that witness to shalom: a life of reconciliation, economic sharing, non-hierarchy and non-domination, mercy and compassion.
Compassion is not a Crime! by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
Scott explores the folly of government threats of huge fines against those who take medicine and toys to Iraq in defiance of the US/UN sanctions. Reiterates the call of Church leaders to lift the embargo.
Interesting Facts - Winter 1999
Numbers that leave you feeling numb! More evidence from the public record of policy run amok.
A Tree of Peace in Bosnia by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy
Claire Schaeffer-Duffy's personal account of efforts at healing and resettlement in war torn Bosnia. Amidst destroyed villages, people's bitter memories, and continued hostility there are a few signs of hope.
Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Warriors by Lana Jacobs
Lana Jacobs challenges us to bear witness against warmaking as a responsibility to our and all the world's children.
Beware the Boss Man and S. D.
Tales of how the poor and homeless are often exploited for their labor reflecting our society's loss of the sense that work is a gift for the common good.
The Unmasking by Rev. Larry Morlen
Participants account of the God's of Metal Plowshares action at Andrews Air Force Base on May 17, 1998. Five Christian witnesses, a grandmother, two Catholic religious Sisters, and two Catholic priests, hammered and poured their blood on a B-52 bomber, read their statement of intent, and were arrested.
C. W. Editor Calls On G. M. Strikers In Plant at Flint by Dorothy Day
As the 1998 strike against General Motors by the United Auto Workers continues, here is Dorothy Day's eyewitness account of the famous strike against GM 70 years ago.
Interesting Facts - Summer 1998
Sad but true summertime reading of more outrageous evidence from the public record about our nations disordered priorities.
The Lilliput Strategy: Globalization from Below by Jim Allaire
There is a resurgence of sweatshops and child labor in our new global economy. This article explores a vision of labor justice and suggests personal actions we can take to stem such practices.
Interesting Facts - May 1998
More evidence from the public record of our society's disordered priorities.
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." (John 13:8) by Mark Colville
From his jail cell, Mark Colville challenges our understanding of discipleship, using Jesus' washing of his disciples feet as an example. He invites us to ponder whether resistance that risks jail might be normative for Christians.
Life and Death in Iraq by Phil Runkel
An eyewitness testimony of the continuing war against the people of Iraq, especially the children.
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Darkness Craving Light by Barbara Allaire
The movement to legalize physician-assisted suicide is unmasked as an extreme form of individualism, driven by false compassion, economics, expedience, and near-worship of efficiency. By opening our hearts to the poor, disabled, and forsaken we open ourselves to the Light that will guide us out of this "terrible darkness."
Interesting Facts - December 1997
Even in the season of Light, the evidence of greed, violence, and uncaring in our world is there to see in the public record.
Cardinal O'Connor's Homily On November 9, 1997, On the Idea of Sainthood and Dorothy Day by Cardinal John O'Conner
In this homily of November 9, 1997 commemorating the centenary of Dorothy Day's birth, Cardinal O'Connor considers whether to initiate the ecclesiastical process of proclaiming Dorothy Day a saint of the Church. He praises her life and influence, her love of the poor and the Church.
Returning Home to Africa by Patricia M. Mische
Pat Mische rediscovers her mission in this emotional account of a return visit to Kenya. Images of utter poverty mix with signs of faith and human ingenuity.
Polar opposites? Remembering the kindred spirits of Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa by Eileen Egan
A friend to both Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa, Eileen Egan traces each woman's spiritual journey to become servants of the poor. While they worked in different ways, both were united in the conviction of God's presence in every human being.
Reflections on American Catholic Pacifism
An interview with Nancy Roberts and Anne Klejment, coeditors of the award winning book American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. They discuss the definitions of pacifism, how pacifism became more respectable in American Catholicism, and the continuing challenges facing pacifists.
Interesting Facts - November 1997
Appalling facts from the public record to explain why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Children Against Executions by Clare Schaeffer-Duffy and Justin Duffy
A testament of hope. The personal account of "The Children's Crusade to Abolish the Death Penalty" march from the diaries of Justin Duffy, aged 12, and his mother Claire Schaeffer-Duffy.
Life With Pete by Andy Tribble
An account of a friendship and the lonely death of an alcoholic guest at St. Francis Catholic Worker House. Andy Tribble reflects on his struggle to remain loving and hospitable, to find the balance between cynicism and acceptance when the call to love is "harsh and dreadful."
Interesting Facts: September-October 1997
Statistics aren't dry and meaningless when human folly and misery are involved. Read and weep over these items culled from the public record.
Global Capitalism and Its Challenge For Nonviolence by Angi O'Gorman
This article answers the question: "How do we effectively address the violence of the world economic order through nonviolent means?" Old models of activism must give way to a new solidarity that's rooted in a spirituality of "reduced circumstances."
Feed the Hungry! End the Korean War! by Michael True
The hunger crisis in North Korea is directly linked to U.S. policy and distortions in the media about that country. Unless immediate food aid is forthcoming, millions will die.
Interesting Facts - August 1997
More numbers and facts collected from the public record that point to the injustice and folly of our society.
The Plank In Our Eye
News about China trying to subvert U.S. elections is compared to current and past direct actions of our government against El Salvador, Argentina, Cuba, Haiti, Irag, and Guatemala.
The US Prison Build-Up by Pat Clark and Laura Magnani
Discussion of the facts of and reasons behind the current and harsh U.S. prison policies. Increasingly the penal system is just another way to make a profit with large lobbying constituents.
Temporary Workers
Temporary employment agencies exploit the homeless by buying their labor as a commodity, ignoring the dignity of persons and the holiness of work.
Interesting Facts - July 1997
More facts and figures about our nation's disordered priorities that you may not have seen in the mainstream media.
Portraying the Truth by Scott Shaeffer-Duffy
The truth about the Gulf War is emerging in spite of government cover-ups. Writers who contradict "official" government accounts face being marginalized by the mainstream media. We are reminded of Jesus' words, "The truth will set you free." (Jn 3:32)
Interesting Facts - March 1997
Provocative facts gathered from public sources that reveal our nation's upside-down priorities and policies. Opportunities for action.
A Peacemaker's Response to Welfare Reform Legislation by Betsy Clark, SSJ
As welfare reform is implemented state-by-state, individuals and groups are urged to become monitors of the results. Betsy Clark, SSJ describes the work of NETWORK, a national social justice lobby, and provides questions we can ask to monitor the situation in our locality.
Interesting Facts – February 1997
A collection of disturbing facts from the public record that indicate how messed up our national priorities really are.
Section 8 Housing At Risk
This editorial from America magazine explains why more families will be driven into homelessness with the cutting of a successful aid program. (See accompanying article by Jerry Daoust.)
Hear the Knocking at Our Door? by Jerry Daoust
How one Catholic Worker community struggles with changes in government housing plans. Jerry Daoust challenges each of us to respond locally and dialogue with government agents. (See above editorial from America.)
How Are We To Behave? by Curt Grove
Challenging the notion that "civility" and "personal responsibility" are answers to our social problems, Curt Grove points to the greed and powerful interests that dominate our nation. He renews the call to Gospel responsibility (Matt 25).
"Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story" by Jim Forest
A review of the film from Paulist Pictures, Michael Ray Rhodes, director John Wells, writer Elwood Kieser, C.S.P., producer Chris Donahue, S.J..
"Cloud of Witnesses" at The School of the Americas by Judith Williams
Judith Williams recounts the nonviolent action at the School of the Americas November 16, 1996. We are invited to support this action to close the School.
Tzedaka by Cynthia Churchill
Cynthia describes the concept of tzedaka from the Hebrew scriptures which defines what it means
What I learned about justice from Dorothy Day by Jim Forest
Jim Forest summarizes the core lessons he learned personally from Dorothy Day about how to live a life committed to peace and justice.
Catholic Bishops On Economic Justice and US Catholic Bishops



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