In his speech to Congress, Pope Francis praised Dorothy Day — along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton — as one of four “representatives of the American people” whom he admired.
Pope Francis was probably the first pope to mention Day’s name in public. It is unlikely that anyone else who addressed Congress in the past had uttered her name.
No doubt most members of Congress — and most Americans watching the speech on television or listening on the radio — had never heard of her. Many of them would have had to Google her on their iPhones and tablets. Some of them — like House Speaker John Boehner, the arch-conservative who invited Pope Francis to speak to Congress — might not have been pleased with what they discovered.
Day (1897-1980) founded the Catholic Worker movement on the principles of militant pacifism, radical economic redistribution,