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December 7, 2021

Whatever Happened to the Common Good?

Divided by COVID-19, Torn Apart by Politics, Fractured by Faith

Whatever Happened to the Common Good? Video Player

Showing the Whatever Happened to the Common Good? Video

This online dialogue lifted up the neglected principle of the common good; explored how it has been undermined in the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as through political combat and religious divisions; and looked for ways forward to advance the common good and meet our national challenges.

The United States has lost a sense of the common good as our politics have become more polarized and dysfunctional. Our capacity to come together to overcome a pandemic and other challenges has been overwhelmed by bitter political and ideological disputes. Religious faith, which should lift up the common good, has instead often been politicized and misused to advance narrow partisan and ideological agendas.

A senior member of Congress, a political analyst who has worked for Democrats and Republicans, a sociologist who has studied what unites and divides us, and the new president of the College of the Holy Cross assessed how this has happened, its costs, and how can we recover a sense of the common good in these times of division and anger. They also explored how Catholic social thought offers a path to the pursuit of the common good.

John Carr, co-director of the Initiative, moderated the conversation. He served for more than 25 years as director of the justice and peace efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Resources

View a list of articles, books, podcasts, and other resources for this dialogue.

Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Participants

Tricia Bruce

Tricia Bruce

Tricia Bruce is a sociologist and award-winning author of several non-fiction books and groundbreaking research reports, including Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church (2017) and the forthcoming Our Lives: What Americans Really Think About Abortion. She is also co-editor of Polarization in the U.S. Catholic Church (2016) and serves as chair-elect of the American Sociological Association Religion Section.

Matthew Dowd

Matthew Dowd

Matthew Dowd was chief strategist for the 2004 Bush campaign and an ABC News political analyst. He also worked for Rep. Dick Gephardt, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is author of Revelations on the River: Healing a Nation, Healing Ourselves (2021) and A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as We Lead and Serve (2017). He has recently announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor of Texas.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur

Rep. Marcy Kaptur

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives and among the most senior members of the 116th Congress. Representing Ohio’s 9th district, including Cleveland, Rep. Kaptur has been a leader on the appropriations committee and led the bipartisan effort for the World War II Memorial. 

Vincent Rougeau

Vincent Rougeau

Vincent Rougeau is the first lay and first Black president of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He previously served as dean of the Boston College Law School and the inaugural director of the Forum on Racial Justice in America. He is the author of Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order (2008).