5,600-plus sisters call for civility by candidates in presidential race


SPRING, Md. (CNS) — More than 5,600 U.S. religious sisters have signed a letter asking
for civil discourse in the presidential campaign.

letter was to be sent Aug. 8 to the candidates of the Democratic, Republican,
Green and Libertarian parties as well as their vice presidential running mates
and the chairs of their respective parties.

simply ask that all who seek to lead refrain from language that disrespects,
dehumanizes or demonizes another,” the letter said. “We pray that all who seek
to influence public opinion will be mindful of the common good and respectful
of the dignity of each and every person.”

letter was written by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which
represents about 80 percent of the 49,000 women religious in the United States. LCWR, based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, has about 1,350 congregations
of women religious as members,representing 80
percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.

As of
Aug. 3, 5,671 sisters had signed the letter. Their ministries include education,
health care, and other pastoral and social services.

urge you to join us in pledging to engage in careful listening and honest
dialogue that honors the dignity of those with whom we disagree and treats all
with the respect that is their God-given right,” the letter said. “Please join
us in promising to seek the common good, to desire only good for all others,
and to offer our own truth with equal measures of conviction and humility.”

letter quoted from Pope Francis’ address to Congress when he visited the United
States last September: “You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of
your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good,
for this is the chief aim of all politics.”

we live in a time when our politics is too often marked by self-interest and
demeaning rhetoric. We seem to be caught in a political system paralyzed by
ideological extremism and hyper-partisanship,” the letter said.

on all sides of the growing political divide too often appeal to our basest
instincts and stoke the fires of fear that tear at the fabric of our nation. We
cannot let the voices of hatred and fear carry the day.”

it seems in this particular political season commitment to political discourse
that preserves the dignity of the human person and promotes the common good is
in short supply,” said an Aug. 3 statement by Sister Joan Marie Steadman, a
Sister of St. Joseph who is LCWR’s executive director. “This is why LCWR is
calling for civility in our discourse and decency in our political

letter concluded, “We know that you offer yourself in service of the people of
the United States at great cost to yourself and your family. We promise you our
prayers in the weeks and months ahead.”

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