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The Catholic Worker Movement is a collection of autonomous communities of Catholics and their associates founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933. Its aim is to "live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ." One of its guiding principles is hospitality towards those on the margin of society. To this end, the Catholic Worker movement claims over 185 local Catholic Worker communities providing social services. Each house has a different mission, going about the work of social justice in their own ways, suited to their local region. Catholic Worker houses are not official organs of the Roman 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 distribution of wealth globally. Dorothy Day also founded The Catholic Worker newspaper, still published by the two Catholic Worker houses in New York Citymarker and sold for a penny a copy.


The Catholic Worker movement started with the Catholic Worker newspaper, created to advance Catholic social teaching and stake out a neutral, pacifist position in the war-torn 1930s. This grew into a "house of hospitality" in the slums of New York City and then a series of farms for people to live together communally. The movement quickly spread to other cities in the United Statesmarker, and to Canadamarker and the United Kingdommarker; more than 30 independent but affiliated CW communities had been founded by 1941. Well over 100 communities exist today, including several in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germanymarker, The Netherlandsmarker, the Republic of Irelandmarker, Mexicomarker, New Zealandmarker, and Swedenmarker. Day, who died in 1980, is currently under consideration for sainthood by the Catholic Church.

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:
  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 gets according to his need.
  6. creating a new society within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks like new!

See also

Similar Christian movements

  • On the English CW, see: Olivier Rota, From a social question with religious echoes to a religious question with social echoes. The ‘Jewish Question’ and the English Catholic Worker (1939-1948) in Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXV n°3, May–June 2005, pp.4–5.


  2. " The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker" from The Catholic Worker newspaper, May 2002

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