By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published February 6, 2020
ATLANTA—What does it mean to love our neighbors in the midst of our political climate? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asks the faithful across the country to reflect on this question in a new Civilize It campaign.
Launched by the USCCB on Nov. 3, 2019, “Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate” is an initiative that invites Catholics to model civility, love for neighbor and respectful dialogue, as explained on the conference website.
The campaign includes a prayer, reflection, examination of conscience and a pledge. Participants can share the pledge and reflections on Facebook and Twitter using #CivilizeIt2020. The initiative will end on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the USCCB’s committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, believes Civilize It can bring healing amid personal attacks in the public square.
Civilize It “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,” he said.
Nearly 1,000 people across the country have already taken the campaign pledge of civility, clarity and compassion. More are expected to join during the election season.
Civilize It builds on a similar effort of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and is in collaboration with the “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics,” an ecumenical effort inviting Christians to model dignity and civility.
Kat Doyle, director of Justice and Peace Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, believes the campaign will be helpful for interfaith dialogue and on social issues.
“We feel like we’ll be able to have productive conversations” that are not discounting other people’s opinions and beliefs, she said.
Doyle attended the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Jan. 25-28, an annual event where Catholic social ministry leaders in the U.S. visit Washington, D.C. to address issues being pushed by the USCCB. During this year’s visit, Doyle spoke with elected officials about Civilize It.
The representatives were supportive of the campaign, said Doyle.
“It was very encouraging,” she added.
By participating in the campaign, we can “bear witness to a better way, approach conversations with civility, clarity and compassion, and invite others to do the same,” said Bishop Dewane.
For more information on the Civilize It campaign and to take the pledge, visit civilizeit.org