By the Franciscan Action Network
We hold these truths to be self-evident; that we are created equal and that our discourse with one another is marked by mutual respect, considerate listening, and a genuine concern for the common good.
Unfortunately, we have experienced a national loss of civil discourse and the long ignored problems impacting families and institutions have been laid bare. Attitudes of hatred, sensationalism, rigidity, and greed have taken root and given rise to name-calling, exploitation, unashamed selfishness, and corruption.
Pope Francis addressed our Congress and spoke to all Americans, asking that our collective response to polarization, “be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice [because] the challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation…and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.”
When speaking with fellow citizens in the coming days and weeks, try to hear their frustrations and anxiety with an ear toward understanding where they are coming from. We all have deep feelings that, instead of being ignored, should be acknowledged so they can be healed.
Therefore, we ask you to join us in taking the FRANCIS PLEDGE:
Commitment to Civility in Discourse
- Facilitate a forum for difficult discourse and acknowledge that dialogue can lead to new insight and mutual understanding
- Respect the dignity of all people, especially the dignity of those who hold an opposing view
- Audit myself and utilize terms or a vocabulary of faith to unite or reconcile rather than divide conflicting positions
- Neutralize inflamed conversations by presuming that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith
- Collaborate with others and recognize that all human engagement is an opportunity to promote peace
- Identify common ground such as similar values or concerns and utilize this as a foundation to build upon
- Support efforts to clean up provocative language by calling policy makers to their sense of personal integrity
In her book Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders, Dr. Elisabeth Vasko says,
“To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not, neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be.”
We could substitute any and all faith traditions for Christian in her statement and it would be the same. Pope Francis called for a “Bold Cultural revolution”, a revolution of Spirit, a reawakening of our interconnectedness. We need a “coming together” so we are in relationship with all as brothers and sisters and not separate.
So let’s continue this bold cultural revolution. Of course no one ever said the revolution would be easy, quick and painless.