WASHINGTON — The recent discussions about civility in rhetoric following the deadly Arizona shootings on Jan. 8 have shed new light on one of the principles of the Franciscan Action Network.
New FAN executive director Patrick Carolan issued a statement earlier this month about the shootings, and reminded readers that FAN’s program, “The FRANCIS Commitment to Civility in Discourse” encourages Franciscans to treat others respectfully. The program offers prayer cards, a sample letter to the editor and to legislators, and other resources to promote the civility that St. Francis expressed.
Carolan, who took the Washington, D.C., position in November, chose the shootings as one of the justice and peace issues about which to speak as FAN’s executive director. He had previously served in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., as a fundraiser for the Stamford Catholic Schools.
The Civility in Discourse program provides principles for public conversation based on the life of Francis and the Franciscan traditions. “Our purpose in proposing these principles is to be mindful of a Franciscan way to promote policy reform and to demonstrate peace in an ongoing process of transformation,” according to the FAN website.
In his statement, Carolan wrote: “Our national conversations on policy will continue to experience a great degree of inflammatory language. It is language that exaggerates differences and hardens positions, and language that is provocative in nature and uses violent imagery at times.”
He continued: “As part of our Franciscan tradition, we understand the need to reverence each other, to recognize that we are all children of God and, therefore, all brothers and sisters connected to each other through God. This reverence is manifested in how we treat each other in both words and actions. How do we treat the cashier at the grocery store when we have been waiting in line for 20 minutes to buy a gallon of milk? When we walk down the street and see a homeless person, do we look at him or her with disdain or pity, or do we see a sister or brother in Christ and respond accordingly, the way Jesus and Clare and Francis would have? When we talk about civility, we should remember that the word civility does not mean to be polite, but rather, it means to respect and care for each other.”
Other FAN Initiatives
On Jan. 24, staff members of the Franciscan Action Network participated in the annual March for Life supporting a repeal to the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the United States.
On Jan. 26, the Creativity for Creation webcast, offering prayer, presentations and discussion, is taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. Creative solutions to ecological sustainability will be discussed. Panelists include Ríobart Breen, a Siena College professor; Sr. Caryn Crook, OSF, Spirituality and Nature Center; Stacey Kennealy, GreenFaith; Joelle Novey, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light; and Fran Teplitz, Green America.
Registration is available on the FAN website.
Carolan invites e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and encourages Facebook users to “like” the Franciscan Action Network page.
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.