How did Day’s nonviolent protests impact the Catholic Church?

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Dorothy Day's nonviolent protests impacted the Catholic Church more than many other protests that happened concurrently. This was due to the fact that rather than organizing open events that protested injustice in general, Day expertly utilized coalition politics to undermine a hegemonic Catholic identity which tended to overlook problems of systemic injustice.

In 1933, Day cofounded the Catholic Worker Movement, a focused organizational identity made up of people who identified as Catholic and challenged what they perceived as the Church's complacency over social and economic injustices. The Catholic Worker Movement adopted the core values of the Catholic Church, such as communitarianism (the enrichment of community) and personalism (the consciousness of social welfare), and applied them to the destitute conditions of many members of the working class and racial minorities. Additionally, the concept of the nonviolent protest, which was novel at the time, leveraged the Catholic value of pacifism and afforded Day's arguments a rhetorical space that she leveraged to challenge the Church and other powerful sociopolitical structures.

In response, the Church began to adjust its moral priorities, shifting some of its energy and funding away from old, impersonal institutional approaches to improving social and economic justice. In the years following the protests, it moved toward a more collaborative, community-based approach that continues to thrive today.

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