By Vatican News staff writer
Seeking to promote efforts that bring people together to serve the common good in the face of a polarized society, Catholic Bishops in the United States (USCCB) have launched the “Civilize it: A Better kind of Politics” initiative.
The nonpartisan initiative, launched on 7 September, and aimed at both political leaders and citizens, seeks to unite Catholics across the country to live out a better kind of politics “by pledging charity, clarity and creativity” in the service of society.
Inspired by Fratelli tutti
The “Civilize it” idea is heavily inspired by Pope Francis’ teaching in his latest Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.
“As Pope Francis writes in Fratelli Tutti, we can seek ‘a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good,’” said the US Bishops on the webpage of the initiative.
“We can see ourselves as members of one family. We can seek to encounter and to grow. We can identify common values. We can listen to understand. We can seek the truth together. We can jointly come up with creative solutions to the problems that face our world.”
Coordinator of the initiative, Jill Rauh, notes that the effort is designed to “move forward the kind of conversations that we need to be having to overcome our divisions.”
Rauh added that Pope Francis, in the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, and the USCCB in “‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” – their document on election participation - called on Christians to “engage in the public sphere and to do so year-round,” and to find ways of working for the common good.
The webpage of the initiative contains several resources to help parishes, groups and individuals join in efforts to address polarization of any kind.
The resources include a “Prayer for Civility” that draws from the Peace Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, a study guide and parish bulletin inserts. Visitors to the website are also encouraged to sign a pledge saying that they will rely on “charity, clarity and creativity” to promote understanding and dialogue over division.
Signers of the pledge promise to affirm the dignity of each person through their words and actions, and to become bridgebuilders who participate in constructive dialogue based in shared values. They also pledge to see differences in perspectives as opportunities for creative tension that can yield solutions for the common good, and to be open to the process of dialogue that can require a change of perspective.
The “Civilize it” idea was born in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2016. It attracted the attention of the USCCB who took the model in 2019 and proposed it, with some modifications, at a national level.