The Death of a “Catholic Atheist”
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
Michael Harrington is dead — on July 31 at the age of 61, of cancer of the esophagus. He once described himself as a “Catholic atheist.” Others have described him, with Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas, as one of the most prestigious U.S. socialists of this century. Although not as well-known as Debs or Thomas, he surpassed them both as a writer and thinker and was not far behind them as a speaker. Finally, he was right up there with them as a great and good human being.
On the day in November 1987 when he entered the hospital — only to be told that his cancer was inoperable — a friend and I visited him. I said, “Would you have any objections if I asked the readers of Religious Socialism [a periodical I then co-edited] to pray for you?”
He smiled and said, “No, not at all. If Dorothy Day comes down to save me, I’ll just have to change my thinking.” Before he lost his faith, Harrington had spent two years working at the Catholic Worker in the early 1950s.
Enjoyed reading this?
READ MORE! REGISTER TODAYSUBSCRIBE
You May Also Enjoy
Maritain and Day were of one mind on the use of private property toward the common good, and their desire to “exist with the people.”
Among the industrial nations of the West, only the U.S. has had no democratic socialist party of national significance, nor a party to speak for the labor movement.
It is not hard to understand why Dorothy Day was so taken with Tolstoy. His…