Can Catholic Social Teaching Reduce Polarization?

Robert Christian writes:

Polarization in the United States has increased dramatically in recent decades. At a Georgetown University event on polarization in a “broken Church and nation,” John Carr, the director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, described the grim landscape of American politics. He argued that Americans are more divided than united and that fear, cynicism and anger are leading to tribalism, resulting in the nation’s capital failing to do even basic tasks like fund the government. This division has created fault lines that run through the Church, not just the government and culture. Many Catholics feel “politically homeless,” while others have become polarized, mirroring the values and behavior of others in their political party.

The event featured four panelists who brought unique perspectives and insights on polarization and its impact….

Gehring said that now is the time to reclaim Catholic social teaching. He noted that we are a “both/and” Church that has the resources and worldview to transcend some of the deep divisions in American society. He urged a revival of the consistent ethic of life, an approach that challenges the reigning ideologies on the right and left in the U.S….

Elise Italiano, the founding executive director of The GIVEN Institute, also pointed to the value of the consistent life ethic and the importance of fully embracing Catholic social teaching. She noted that many young Catholics are showing a commitment to this approach in their activism, prayer life and on social media. However, Italiano pointed to high rates of stress, isolation and depression that millennials face. Many young leaders do not know to whom they should turn for advice or to emulate in their search for the best way forward. She closed by saying we can help each other and live as real neighbors, even if we disagree on certain matters.