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June 14, 2019

Lay Leadership for a Wounded Church and Divided Nation

Panelists of the June 14, 2019 Public Dialogue on "Lay Leadership for a Wounded Church and Divided Nation."

This Public Dialogue focused on the often-overlooked costs of the clergy sexual abuse crisis on the Catholic Church’s credibility and impact on public life in the United States, asking how we can repair the Catholic community’s capacity to defend human life and dignity and pursue justice and peace in our nation.

The principles of Catholic social thought offer ways to move forward to reform and renew the life of the Church and to revitalize Catholic contributions to the common good in polarized U.S. politics.

This unique conversation included an evangelical leader who served in three Republican administrations; a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary who left the Catholic Church over the abuse crisis; a leader from Los Angeles in advocacy for unborn and undocumented children; and a national leader on welcoming refugees and promoting faithful citizenship. At a time when the credibility of the institutional Church is greatly damaged, they explored how lay women and men can become “salt, light, and leaven” to stand with the poor and vulnerable, welcome immigrants, protect religious liberty, and pursue racial and economic justice in a divided nation.


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  • Kathleen Domingo is the senior director of the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and former director of education and field operations for Catholics for the Common Good in San Francisco.
  • Melinda Henneberger is a 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist in commentary for the Kansas City Star, former columnist for USAToday, and reporter for the Washington Post and the New York Times.
  • Joan Rosenhauer is the executive director of Jesuit Refugee Services, former vice president at Catholic Relief Services, and leader in efforts on faithful citizenship at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Peter Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an opinion writer for the New York Times who served in three Republican administrations, and the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.

John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, will moderate the conversation. Kim Daniels, associate director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, will open the dialogue.

This Public Dialogue was part of the 2019 National Leadership Convening on Lay Leadership for a Wounded Church and Divided Nation. The Convening brought together 60 Catholic leaders from across the nation to explore how the principles of Catholic social thought can advance protection and accountability, faithful reform, renewed commitment to mission, and a principled contribution to the common good in a divided nation. The Public Dialogue and Convening were made possible by the Connelly Foundation and the GHR Foundation.