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FAN’s Commitment to Civility in Discourse

Photo by League of Women Voters of Califorina, via flickr

In yesterday’s reading from Ephesians we hear, “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us.”

While our missioners are imitating God overseas in poor and oppressed communities, we are called to imitate God and be instruments of peace here at home — and there is no lack of opportunity.

Take, for instance, the upcoming election. Candidates and the public alike focus on attacking others instead of working toward a better future by addressing issues such as feeding the hungry or protecting the planet. 

During the next three months, we can be bearers of God’s peace through the F.R.A.N.C.I.S. Commitment to Civility in Discourse, a set of principles for public conversation introduced two years ago by our friends at Franciscan Action Network.

“If we are ever to move forward as children of God we need to stop,” Patrick Carolan, FAN’s executive director, recently wrote. “We need remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling from our hearts and minds.”

The principles of the FRANCIS commitment are based on the life of Francis and our Franciscan traditions, calling us to peacefully and respectfully promote policy reform and to demonstrate peace in an ongoing process of transformation.

Take a quiet moment in prayer and then recite the following out loud or to yourself. Each verb begins with a letter which, when taken together, spells out the name FRANCIS:

“I commit to:
FACILITATE a forum for difficult discourse and acknowledge that all dialogue can lead to new insight and mutual understanding.
RESPECT the dignity of all people, especially the dignity of those who hold an opposing view.
AUDIT one’s self and utilize terms or a vocabulary of faith to unite or reconcile rather than divide conflicting positions.
NEUTRALIZE inflamed conversations by presuming that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith.
COLLABORATE with others and recognize that all human engagement is an opportunity to promote peace.
IDENTIFY common ground such as similar values or concerns and utilize this as a foundation to build upon.
SUPPORT efforts to clean up the provocative language by calling policymakers to their sense of personal integrity.”

Please share the pledge with others to help transform our public conversations in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare.

More information on the  F.R.A.N.C.I.S. Commitment to Civility in Discourse, including printable prayer cards and sample letters to editors and legislators, can be found on FAN’s website.

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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