September 26, 2018

Annual Report 2017-2018: Promoting Civil Dialogue in Polarized Times

2018 marks five years since the founding of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. Since the Initiative began, it has organized more than 40 gatherings attended by more than 18,000 people, demonstrating there is a hunger for civil dialogue and moral conversation in public life, for the values of Catholic social teaching, and for the message of Pope Francis.

This report shares another remarkable year of promoting civil and substantive dialogue, encouraging young leaders, and building bridges on faith and politics at Georgetown, in Washington, and beyond. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Initiative drew more than 3,000 people to over one dozen gatherings. Specifically,this past year the Initiative:

  • Hosted an unprecedented national Convening on Overcoming Polarization Through Catholic Social Thought and invited 100 emerging and established leaders, including Cardinal Blase Cupich and Archbishop José Gómez, to assess and help overcome harmful polarization within the Catholic community and beyond;
  • Launched with Mission and Ministry a new series of Dahlgren Dialogues which filled Georgetown’s Dahlgren Chapel;
  • Organized three Roundtables on Faith and the Faithful in U.S. Politics,exploring the impacts and future of religious voters and communities in current politics;
  • Conducted four major Public Dialogues;
  • Hosted a Salt and Light Gathering in the U.S. Capitol for young public policy leaders in Washington, bringing together senators and representatives from across the aisle;
  • Engaged the campus community with three Catholic Social Thought Fellows;assisted the university and its board to adopt and apply socially responsible investing policies; held a student session on faith, work, and life after Georgetown;and taught undergraduates in a seminar on Catholic social teaching.

Over the years, the Initiative has grown from a promising idea to a respected place of civil dialogue in a divided Capital; a place for leaders to come together across political, ideological, and ecclesial lines to build bridges and advance common principles; and a unique source of encouragement and formation for young Catholic public policy and Latino leaders in Washington.

This past year has demonstrated that the Initiative’s distinctive mission of civil dialogue, encouragement of young leaders, and principled participation in public life is more important than ever. We are very grateful.

Sincerely,
John L. Carr, Director