Herald of Hope

Having concluded the recent candidates’ debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump and with the National Republican Convention only days away, it is evident that we have entered the depths of the election cycle. Many political pundits and media commentators are predicting one of the most contentious of campaigns, noting the electorate and the nation itself have become deeply polarized and riddled with divisiveness. Contemporary conversations on political matters tend to be characterized by invective and hostile exchanges, often leading to the breakdown and termination of discussion.

In light of this precarious political climate, the bishops of our country are inviting and encouraging the members of the Catholic faithful to participate in a campaign titled “Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics.” This program is a nonpartisan initiative developed by the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that seeks to engage individuals, families and communities in dialogue and bridge building in pursuit of the common good during and beyond the election season. The original idea of “Civilize It” was created by the Offices of Social Action, New Evangelization and Marriage and Family Life of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. It attracted the attention of the USCCB, which enhanced the model by incorporating elements inspired by the message of Pope Francis from his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers): On Fraternity and Social Friendship,” promulgated in the year 2020.

In this encyclical, the Holy Father calls for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.” He advocates a more positive form of political activity which fosters a social love among people through dialogue across perspectives, inspiring “new ways of approaching the problems of today’s world, of profoundly renewing structures, social organizations and legal systems from within.” This entails working across differences to listen to one another and connect around shared values, resulting in creative solutions for the common good.

There are a number of resources which support the campaign of “Civilize It,” including prayers, videos, background papers, study guides, reflections and action steps. These materials can be found on a special website dedicated to the program: https://www.usccb.org/civilizeit. One of the best resources is an article titled “Five Tips from Pope Francis for ‘a Better Kind of Politics.’” I would like to summarize and share these points below:

  • We must recover “the sense of belonging to a single human family.” This is in stark contrast to the tendency that has become commonplace, which is to see only our own interests and perspectives. We have to commit to overcoming “every individualistic mindset” and instead “seek the good of all people,” including those we may see as different from us.
  • We must commit to approaching others with love, especially since even those with whom we disagree are children of God. We have become used to efforts aimed more to “discredit and insult opponents from the outset than to open a respectful dialogue aimed at achieving agreement on a deeper level.” We must model by example a respectful approach that honors others as made in God’s image. This involves stepping outside ourselves, listening with empathy and seeking to truly understand another person’s experience.
  • We must identify common values based on truth. Social love has to be “accompanied by a commitment to the truth,” informed by faith and reason. An essential starting place for dialogue is to identify common values rooted in truth and justice, such as the dignity of the human person, or a commitment to fundamental human rights and integral human development. Identifying these common convictions can unite us despite our differences.
  • “We must learn how to unmask the various ways that the truth is manipulated, distorted and concealed in public and private discourse,” and to unmask media sources that are actually “powerful special interests that seek to tilt public opinion unfairly in their favor.” An important starting point in preparing our hearts for dialogue is to consider from what sources I get my information. Are these sources reputable and longstanding? Are they neutral sources or connected with a particular bias?
  • We must get comfortable with being a polyhedron. A polyhedron is a three-dimensional shape that has many faces, and it is being used as an image to “represent a society where differences coexist, complementing, enriching and reciprocally illuminating one another, even amid disagreements and reservations.” “Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it many include legitimate convictions and concerns,” that others “have a contribution to make” and that we can both “be frank and open about our beliefs, while continuing to discuss, to seek points of contact, and, above all, to work and struggle together.” We must seek to identify “shared goals that transcend their differences and can thus engage in a common endeavor.”

The website for the “Civilize It” campaign also contains a three-point pledge to serve as a reminder of our commitment to embrace “A Better Kind of Politics.”


  • To affirm through my words and actions the dignity of every person, each made in God’s image. Even those with whom I disagree are made in his image.
  • To respectfully listen in order to understand experiences different from my own.


  • To engage in critical examination to ensure that my perspectives are rooted in the truth, that my sources of information are unbiased, and that I do not open myself to manipulation by partisan interests.
  • To form my conscience through prayerful reflection, study of Scripture and Church Teaching, and guidance from reputable experts.
  • To reflect on my own values and seek, with others, to identify shared values.
  • To be open to the process of dialogue that can require change of perspective — my own and others’ — in service to the inviolable dignity of all and the common good.


  • To be a bridge-builder who participates in constructive dialogue based in shared values, a mutual exchange of gifts and the humility to together seek the good.
  • To see differences in perspective as opportunities for creative tension which can yield solutions for the common good.
  • To work with others in order to identify creative solutions rooted in our shared values.