One year ahead of the 2020 national elections, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is launching a year-long initiative that invites Catholics to model civility, love for neighbor, and respectful dialogue. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate will ask Catholics to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion in their families, communities, and parishes, and call on others to do the same.
The initiative, which many dioceses are launching in parishes this weekend (November 2-3), is built on the recognition that every person—even those with whom we disagree—is a beloved child of God who possesses inherent dignity. Supporting materials for the initiative include ideas to help Catholics and others of good will to engage in and model respect and compassion, as well as resource materials to assist in the effort. Civilize It is the invitation to imitate the example of Jesus in our daily lives, including in our encounters with one another through civil dialogue.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development emphasized the importance ofCivilize 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.”
Civilize It builds on a similar effort implemented in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in previous election years. It is being offered in concert with a wider ecumenical effort, Golden Rule 2020, which invites all Christians to model our shared values of dignity and civility and pursue dialogue instead of division.
Together with the USCCB, dioceses around the country are being called to utilize Civilize It to help Catholics put our faith in action by honoring human dignity through civil conversation this upcoming election year. Resource materials supporting the initiative include: a pledge to civility that can be taken by individuals and communities; resources for prayer and reflection including a pastoral aid and prayer for civility; tips for civil dialogue; and more. More information on the initiative as well as promotion materials, resources and other tools may be found on CivilizeIt.org.