Last Call. If you haven’t registered for the Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet & Conference, it’s that time: Last Call! Registration will shut down at 11:59 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 12). So, stop what you’re doing, visit www.necatholic.org, and get yourself (and your family, friends, and parishioners) registered for the banquet and conference. The banquet is on Friday evening, Sept. 17, starting at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour and banquet dinner to follow—keynote speaker: Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Chairman of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference is on Saturday, Sept. 18, starting at 8:30 a.m. with the Rosary and a day full of excellent conference talks beginning at 9 a.m.
The banquet and conference will focus living out the Gospel of Life into the next 25 years. We are excited for the vision this year’s event will establish for Nebraska’s pro-life movement. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Join us Sept. 17 and 18, so together we can figure out where we are going and be fervent disciples for the Gospel of Life!
So, one more time, for good ol’ time’s sake: register at www.necatholic.org – see you there!
Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics. During the last Presidential election cycle, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a new initiative entitled “Civilize It.” The purpose of the initiative was to ensure that adequate focus during the election cycle was given not simply to the issues and candidates being debated, but that there was also an equally adequate focus on how to engage in civil and charitable dialogue on what is often controversial political matters. In short, the US Bishops wanted to make sure Catholics were equipped to be and act as Christians in the public square, a place where noise and division too often abound.
While the initiative was a somewhat quiet one and its resources were few, I found the initiative to be important, impactful, and insightful. It provided the basic tools that any person—but especially a Catholic—should have when discussing any topic (but especially politics). It underscored the importance of listening to understand those you are speaking with—especially your political “opponents”—and from this place of listening to be able to delve more deeply and authentically into the issues.
As we prepare for the mid-term election cycle, the USCCB is re-launching their “Civilize It” initiative. As stated in its promotional materials: “As a Church and a nation, we are polarized and divided. Pope Francis challenges us to respond to building a ‘better kind of a politics, one truly at the service of the common’ (Fratelli Tutti, no. 154). We are called to overcome division, promote encounters with our neighbors, and seek the truth.” It is the desire of the US Bishops “to assist Catholics to counter polarization and division in Church and society by following the example of the Good Samaritan, who challenges us to ‘become neighbors to all’ (Fratelli Tutti, no. 80).”
As I’ve mentioned, our political discourse is rife with toxic exchanges. While it is nothing new to see some of the vilest exchanges of communication occur in the context of politics (a phenomenon that social media has only exponentially multiplied), there is no reason this must be the norm. “Civilize It” seeks to flip this dynamic by calling on Catholics to be leaven in the culture—to enter into the fray of political discourse and to reveal a “better kind of politics,” a politics that respects the other person and does not seek to vilify them or their sincerely held beliefs. “Civilize It” seeks to charitably meet people where they are at, create a culture of human encounter between persons, and from that position strive toward understanding the Truth and how we can best strive for the common good.
If you, like me, have that tendency to be quick to judge or cast aspersions on your political “enemies” and find it difficult to sometimes be civil and charitable in the way you conduct yourself during political debates and discussions, then I think you would do well to visit www.CivilizeIt.org and give some of the resources a look. Take them to prayer, give them a read, and periodically return to them in the course of the next year as our nation enters, once again, into the fray of election politics. As always, share with family, friends, parishioners, political friends and adversaries, and anybody else in need.