Washington state bishops urge all work to heal U.S. political divisions

Washington state bishops urge all work to heal U.S. political divisions

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle exchanges the sign of peace with retired Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz of Anchorage, Alaska, as they concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Feb. 4, 2020. The Catholic bishops of Washington state released a pastoral statement Feb. 27 calling on all Washingtonians to work toward healing the nation's political divisions. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

Washington state's Catholic bishops are calling on all Washingtonians "to engage respectfully with others to improve civil dialogue and our entire political system" during this political year.

SEATTLE — Washington state’s Catholic bishops are calling on all Washingtonians “to engage respectfully with others to improve civil dialogue and our entire political system” during this political year.

“Our country’s political discourse has become much less civil over the last several decades to the point where there is a near paralysis in our federal government and too often at the state and local levels,” the bishops said in a two-page pastoral letter released Feb. 27.

“There are many contributing factors and we do not want to point fingers or make accusations. There is enough blame to go around,” they said. “Meanwhile, life and dignity are attacked, injustice and violence persist, and our throwaway culture afflicts the environment.”

“We must reverse these trends and heal our political divisions,” the bishops said.

As Catholic Christians, “we need to heed God’s call to be missionary disciples of Jesus,” they said. “We need to follow his example in engaging with those opposed to his teaching. Jesus always offered mercy and reconciliation.”

The letter, titled “Love One Another: Practicing Civility for the Common Good,” was released by the Seattle-based Washington State Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s bishops.

It was signed by Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, and Auxiliary Bishops Eusebio Elizondo and Daniel H. Mueggenborg of Seattle.

“The human suffering we witness at home and abroad urges us not to delay in our response” to heal the nation’s political divisions, the bishops said. “We must learn again how to work with people who hold different political positions and keep the pressing priorities paramount. We cannot let disagreements derail our efforts on the common good.

“As the Second Vatican Council confirmed, ‘the people who come together in the political community are many and diverse, and they have every right to prefer divergent solutions.”

The Washington bishops pointed Catholics to the U.S. bishops’ quadrennial document titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility,” which provides guidance to voters during a presidential election. They also highlighted the national Civilize It campaign sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The campaign — introduced by the USCCB Nov. 3, 2019, one year before the 2020 vote — is “a nonpartisan call to focus on the dignity of all people, even when we disagree, and to put faith in action by bearing witness to a better way forward,” the bishops said.

“If we want people running for elected office to behave better, we have to start with behaving better with people we encounter who hold differing opinions than our own,” they said.


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