Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Newly launched – and not a moment too soon! You may have heard that within the last week, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship delivered a payload to the International Space Station, including a compact oven—a first in space—to be used to see the effect of zero gravity on baking cookies. Interesting? Surely. Yet this is not the launch on which I am focusing. Rather, on November 3, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a year-long campaign inviting Catholics to model civility and love for neighbor throughout this election year. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate invites Catholics to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion in the public square and to call on others to do the same (this sentence, and the following, are cited from the USCCB website).
As Catholics, we have a long tradition of engagement in the political process as a means of putting our faith into action. We are called to bring the best of ourselves and our faith to the public square—and yet today, many shy away from such involvement because our national and local conversations are filled with vitriol and harsh language, often directed at people themselves. When personal attacks replace honest debate, no one wins. This kind of attack, no matter the reason, only serves to further divide our communities. As Catholics, we must model a better way.
Civilize It is about making room in your heart for those with whom you disagree. We are called to recognize that each one of us is a beloved child of God and to respond in love to that reality. Civilize It is a non-partisan call to focus on the dignity of all people, even when we disagree, and to put faith in action by bearing witness to a better way forward. (USCCB Civilize It Website). Anyone and everyone can commit together to honoring human dignity through civil conversation.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development emphasized the importance of Civilize It in the context of the current divisive climate:
“Conversation in the public square is all too often filled with personal attacks and words that assume the worst about those with whom we disagree. We are in need of healing in our families, communities, and country. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate is a call for Catholics to honor the human dignity of each person they encounter, whether it is online, at the dinner table, or in the pews next to them. I invite all Catholics to participate in Civilize It. In doing so, they can bear witness to a better way, approach conversations with civility, clarity, and compassion, and invite others to do the same.”
Look and listen for more information as we move forward, and check out the resources available immediately at www.wearesaltandlight.org/civilize-it.
May we always speak the truth in love...
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