Rancor in politics, especially these days, may be the norm, but a nationwide effort is under way to remind people that civility in political discussions is a virtue.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops introduced the Civilize It campaign Nov. 3 at parishes around the country. It stresses that respectful dialogue—rather than name-calling and nasty barbs—can occur among people with differing political views.
“In part, this campaign is really in response to the vitriol that we see in public discourse on both sides of the aisle,” said Jill Rauh, director of education and outreach in the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.
“Civility is something that we, at least in theory, should all agree on,” she told Catholic News Service. “Catholics don’t always come down on the same side in terms of where they discern to be voting. But everyone should agree that we can be modeling love for neighbor and we can be modeling the example of Christ.”
The date of the program’s introduction is significant because it is precisely one year from the 2020 presidential election.
The campaign’s cornerstone is a three-part pledge that individuals can take to respect civility, to root political views in the Gospel and a well-formed conscience, and to encounter others with compassion.
Personal reflection is a significant component of the program. Resources developed by Ms. Rauh’s office will help guide participants in the tradition of an examination of conscience so they can better understand how they can respond to people with whom they disagree.
Other resources include a pastoral aid, promotional materials for use in parishes and discussion groups, and examples of social media messaging.
The campaign “is a way the Church can be an example,” Ms. Rauh said. “We can bring our moral voice to the public square.”
Information and resources on the Civilize It campaign are online at http://www.civilizeit.org.