In the December 25, 2017, issue of America Magazine, the editor, Matt Malone, S.J., addressed the issue of the “great divide” that presently exists in our politics and in our faith life. He created ten principles and practices that are a necessity for all people, especially Catholics, in order to have a civil and fruitful discussion of issues.
The ten principles and practices are known as “The Catholic Social Media Compact.”
Matt Malone, S.J., said, “We invite you to join us in imagining what the world might look like if we all agreed to observe these ten principles and practices.”
- We will treat every individual, especially those with whom we disagree, with the respect owed them as children of God. While engaging in spirited disagreement and debate, we will pursue the truth in charity and seek the good of the other in all that we do.
- We will presume, as far as possible, the good intentions of our interlocutors. We will not attribute an opinion to someone that he or she has not openly declared or is not logically implied by his or her actions. We will seek to build up, not tear down.
- We will, as far as possible, question the logic, truthfulness and morality of propositions, rather than the motives, integrity or moral character of persons.
- When conscience or the demands of justice prompt us to challenge people or institutions, we will not merely denounce the actions of others. As far as possible, we will propose an alternative, genuinely constructive course of action.
- As befits the vocation of journalists, we will employ a healthy skepticism. As befits the vocation of Christians, we will avoid toxic cynicism.
- We may employ levity and irony, but we will avoid sarcasm, sneering, and hostile humor, which are destructive of comity and dialogue.
- Even when we are the objects of calumnious attacks, we will not use a sharper mode of response than befits people of faith.
- When we are wrong, we will promptly admit it, correct the public record, and ask for forgiveness.
- We will, as far as possible, identify and celebrate the good, the true, and the beautiful as much as we name and challenge what is immoral, unjust, or evil.
- We will seek to bear witness to the one we serve in all our words and deeds. Accordingly, before posting content to social media, we will recite the prayer, “Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
—America Magazine, www.americamagazine.org