Working previously in college campus ministry, and now with young adults, I have to be engaged with social media, at least to some degree. Usually, it’s a helpful way to invite others into The Basilica, and Basilica Young Adult (BYA) community, but I have to admit it has been a while since I have been on Catholic Twitter. Not Twitter as a whole, just Catholic Twitter. I used to follow a variety of Catholics on Twitter, to keep up on what was happening in the Church and get various perspectives on different issues. After several weeks of seeing the vitriol, name calling, and almost complete lack of charity for one another, it was time to stop following those accounts. (The rest of Twitter isn’t much better, but Christians are called to love their neighbor, so it is especially troubling to see this behavior from people of faith).
This weekend, we are grateful to have Dr. William Doherty from the University of Minnesota here to present on how we can have difficult political conversations with those who disagree with us. This presentation will lead into a series of workshops in March where we can learn more practical skills in how we engage others. We also are encouraging all interested to take the Civilize It pledge from our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to engage others with civility, clarity, and compassion during this 2020 election year—visit mary.org/civilizeit for more information and the link to the pledge form at Civilizeit.org. There is a similar ecumenical effort shared by a number of Christian denominations called Golden Rule 2020, inviting all Christians to engage each other with love.
It strikes me as a little sad that we have to take a pledge to be civil to each other; if we really believe in one God who created all of us out of love, we would treat each other with some level of respect. However, until the Kingdom of God is fully realized, I suppose we will need occasional reminders, myself included. I read an article recently by a priest who shared the saying, “You will know they are Christians by their love, and you will know they are Catholics by their fights.” This priest intimated that this was well known; I was startled by it. I had never heard that before, and if that is how people engage the Catholic community in their daily encounters, it is no wonder people are tempted to disengage from the Church.
One of the places where I find hope in this community is in the various events I attend with young adults. The young adults I have encountered here, and throughout the Archdiocese, come with diverse ideas involving political issues, and how they engage with, and live out their faith. Certainly I have seen disagreements, but more often than not, everyone is respectful, and comes away with greater understanding, if not agreement. Hopefully we can be an example of a faith community that always practices civility, clarity, and compassion with each other and beyond.