Message from the Pastor
Bulletin Issue: June 17 & 24
Earlier this month, dozens of leaders from across the Catholic ecclesiological-political spectrum gathered for a series of meetings at Georgetown University. I had the opportunity to attend several of the sessions. Sponsored by the University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and led by John Carr the meetings were titled, “Though Many, One: Overcoming Polarization through Catholic Social Thought.”
The participants were influential leaders among whom at various times included: Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Helen Alvare and Dr. Robert George (leading Catholic conservative writers), Fr. James Martin, Sr. Teresa Maya (the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious) and PBS commentators Mark Shields and David Brooks.
Among the many ideas shared, I was especially drawn to the following: in her comments Sr. Maya stated, “We stay in our bubbles, with people we know.. feeding our fears, when we must realize we breathe the same air.…Unless you can get to know the other, it can justify the most terrible thing….The antidote to fear is hope.”
Cardinal Cupich also talked about fear as a major factor causing polarization, describing "merchants of fear" who are “telling and teaching” people aggressively in our culture. He, also finds that the “The cost of polarization is the division we face in our nation. We are not just separated by ideas but into groups. That's the difference between partisanship and polarization. Partisans used to be able to get things done, to reach across the aisle. But we are polarized, we have our own sources of information."
Helen Alvare expressed the need for contemplative dialogue when she stated, “I think we often refuse to credit different 'gifts” people bring to the discussion on issues, and so fail to learn from one another…Society being so materialistic also sharply divides people, which is coupled with the fact people are short on time and patience.”
Perhaps Cardinal Cupich found the most fertile common ground among the three most recent popes, noting, "John Paul II told us what to do, Benedict said why we should do it and Pope Francis says, ‘Do it.’”
Going forward from the conference, participants were challenged to bring the fruits of the conversations to their home dioceses and parishes. As your pastor, I invite parishioners and will ask our Parish Pastoral Council to consider the conference’s central question: How can faith help overcome divisions instead of contribute to polarization? If you would like to discuss this question I invite you to contact any members of our staff, myself or members of the Parish Council whose contact information can be found at www.trinity.org/ppc.