Catholic columnist Ron Rolheiser (priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) has a great column this month on civility in public and church discourse titled Respect for Each Other in a Polarized Community (11-15-09). The whole column is worth a close read, but here’s the section I liked best:
Biblical scholar, Ernst Kaseman, once suggested that what’s wrong in both the world and the church is that the liberals aren’t pious and the pious aren’t liberal. How true. It’s rare to see the same person leading both the peace-march and the rosary. Liberals are better at one, conservatives at the other. Each has its own models, its Mel Gibsons and Michael Moores, patron saints of piety or justice. What’s needed is a patron saint for both.
Perhaps we might look for that in Dorothy Day, someone whom both sides, liberal and conservative, respect and recognize as a saint and who is soon to be canonized by the church. She was both pious and liberal, a woman equally comfortable leading a peace-march or leading the rosary. She was also able to stand up strongly for truth, for life, and for justice, without bracketing what has to be forever fundamental within all relationships and discourse – charity, respect, wide compassion, and a sense of humor!