Anyone who spends any amount of time online needs to read this. Now.
We who have been commanded to love our enemies and to spread the Gospel need to be above the fray. Herewith, some dialogue rules for Catholics.
Rule 1: Don’t give up on anyone.
A friend recently read The Church and Racism by the Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace and was struck by how the document denounced racism in no uncertain terms, but refused to condemn racists.
It would denounce racist acts “even to those who are responsible for them,” he said, but “also seeks to understand how these people could have reached that point. [The Church] would like to help them find a reasonable way out of the impasse in which they find themselves.”
The Church refuses to “cancel” anyone — and neither should we. Instead:
Rule 2: Win souls, not arguments.
Remember what St. Paul said: “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.”
He refused to dilute the Gospel, but everything else is up for grabs. He would sacrifice any privilege he had and follow whatever custom his audience was comfortable with if it will help them listen. He didn’t want to advance his personal preferences; he wanted to advance Christ’s.
Rule 3: Break out of your bubble.
It is a sad fact of 21st-century society that we tend to limit ourselves to whichever voices in the media reinforce our own views — joining a two-sided “us vs. them” battle.
A wise man who worked in policy for many years in Washington, D.C., once gave me invaluable advice: “Read your allies with a critical eye, but read your opponents with an open mind.”
When you do this you almost always find that your political “enemies” are not that different from you, and that “your side” needs to rethink some things.
St. John Paul was a master of this. For instance: In the sexual revolution, he didn’t denounce sex — he saw what the Church had neglected and created the Theology of the Body. And, seeing the communists’ concern for this world instead of the next, he said, in their “Victory Square,” “Let the Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth. This earth.”
Those are just for starters. Read the rest. Especially, the conclusion:
There are always two ways to approach your opponent: You can define them by their worst tendencies, or see and love what is best in them.
The first way leads to binary partisanship, divorce, the cancel culture, and makes dialogue impossible. The second way leads to reform, unity, constructive discussion, the culture of encounter, and evangelization. Choose the way of love.
Read it. Share it. Teach it. Live it.
You’ll be glad you did.