UST institute calls for renewal of civil discourse

| November 11, 2016 | 3 Comments

The Catholic Church cannot remain silent in the wake of negativity from the recent presidential campaigns, the University of St. Thomas’ Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship stated Nov. 10.

The institute called election season, “one of the most divisive and dispiriting presidential campaign seasons in recent memory. The vitriol, boorishness and even violence that marred this race were a far cry from civil debate, personal decorum and honest disagreement that characterize democratic politics at its best.”

The institute was referring to negative campaign ads, public statements and exchanges in debates that characterized much of each presidential candidate’s campaign, spilling over into citizen discourse.

Referencing Vatican II document “Gaudium et spes,” the institute said the Church “believes it can contribute greatly toward making the human family and its history more human.”

“Pope Francis has memorably described the Church as a ‘field hospital,’ called not to inflict or deepen, but to mend the divisions of civil society,” it stated. “Central to this mission — which no political development can abrogate — are the corporal works for mercy, above all welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked.”

The institute also referenced Pope Francis’ Oct. 26 general audience message, where he said “it is precisely in the measure to which we open ourselves to others that life becomes fruitful, society regains peace and people recover their full dignity.”

The institution said that American Catholics played a role in the “cheapening of our public discourse.”  “Indeed, many of us failed to resist the temptation to contribute to it, whether in our personal conversations, through social media, or in other ways, both public and private. Of such words and deeds, which are unbecoming of us as citizens, both of the United States and even more so of the Kingdom of God, we are all called to repent.”

Pledging to do its part, the Institute of Citizenship and Catholicism said it will utilize its programs to promote the healing of divisions, improve civil discourse and building up respect for human dignity, and asked the public to join them.

The Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship is part of the university’s theology department. Its mission is to engage the Catholic intellectual tradition, particularly Catholic social thought, to offer a locus for the deepening of dialogue on the subject.

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