Civil Dialogue


Faith, Politics and Civil Dialogue Do Mix - 2012

So often what makes sorting through the rhetoric of the election year even harder is the fear spin that is placed on nearly every sound bite that echoes through the media. If this legislation is passed, these taxes are raised or those dollars are gone, or if this person gets into office all hope will be lost. You personally and people like you will have to give up your life savings or worse yet - the greatest of American fears will take place - you may be inconvenienced.

The scary part about instilling fear is the level of passion it raises in the minds and hearts of us human beings. The level of anger saturating the hearts of various members of our community has been almost, if not, personality altering.

Unmitigated fear can be paralyzing. It can alter our behavior. It can cause us to say things, do things, react and behave in ways beyond our normal selves. Fear can even override our faith in God. Look at the disciples, who following the crucifixion of Jesus, cowered in their room with doors closed “for fear of the Jews”. Fear can shut down the possibility for us to act on our faith. It can turn off our moral belief system and even provide the power to send us into mob mentality.

How did Jesus react to fear? Do not be afraid. “Peace be with you”, “Peace be with you.” “Peace be with you.” What peace was Jesus talking about? - The peace of God that comes from whole hearted faith when we allow the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew what fear was and that it can be an obstacle between us and God. We must have faith in the Peace of God through the Spirit to overcome the fears of this world that separate us from God. Fear that inhibits our transformation to loving “God with all our heart and all our soul and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as our self.”

Then, is fear the opposite of faith? Can the spread of unhealthy fear, which separates us from loving God and neighbor, be the same as spreading sin and evil? If that is the case, then think of the consequences for our nation as we role full force into this election season. The more immediate question – do we as Christians called to live God’s Word sit back and watch or worse yet forget and forfeit our calling to enter the fray. Or do we “Listen, with the ear of our heart” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue 1) and rise to our God given humanity to engage in a different way. One such way is through the teaching and practicing of civil dialogue.

In March of this year, Catholics for Peace and Justice joined together with St. Mary Hales Corners to offer a program entitled “Do Faith and Politics Mix?” The program, which was well received, offered participants the opportunity to learn about Catholic moral teaching and civil dialogue – to practice listening to each other with respect and openness so as to honor the experience of truth each person brought to the discussion. In other words, to listen to each other face to face “with the ear of our hearts”.

This fall, in September and October, programs in “Faith, Politics and Civil Dialogue” will again be offered. Programs are tentatively scheduled at St. James Menomonee Falls/Sussex and at St. Mary Hales Corners. Announcements will be forthcoming as dates and locations are firmed up.

If you are thinking about and would like help holding a similar type program at your parish, contact us at for more information. As we move through the election season, Catholics for Peace and Justice will continue to offer to work with parishes and groups to provide meaningful and productive programs that address the issues in light of our Christian Catholic moral foundation – with a focus on civility.

Peace be with you.

Civility Pledge

I Pledge beginning Today, through the 2012 election season, to practice civility in my discourse with others...

By listening to others with respect and openness knowing that God works through all people for the greater good

By addressing ALL my sisters and brothers with civility, honoring the dignity imparted to them by our God

By believing that my experience and understanding of what is

truth may be just one ray of the full light of Wisdom God sheds on the world

By promoting an aura of positive civility in language

By not contributing to the denigration of others through words, deed, email or other forms of discourse