More than 5,000 Catholic nuns have a message for White House hopefuls: Stop being so nasty to one another.
Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will deliver a letter to presidential candidates later this week, calling for “civility in our discourse and decency in our political interaction that promotes the common good, reaches out to others, engages in constructive dialogue and seeks together the way forward.”
The letter, which will be sent to Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, third party candidates, their running mates and party chairs, says political discourse today 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,” it continues. “Those 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 says.
The election season so far has been marked by an especially pointed level of name-calling, especially from Trump, who has coined nicknames for both his Republican and Democratic rivals.
(Some have stuck better than others: “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” seem to have staying power with Trump’s supporters, while “Corrupt Kaine” has not quite caught on.)
The sisters want the candidates to knock it off.
“We simply ask that all who seek to lead refrain from language that disrespects, dehumanizes or demonizes another,” the letter says. “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.”
The L.C.W.R. represents about 80 percent of U.S. sisters, and it is generally viewed as part of the church’s social justice flank. Critics argue that the group does not spend enough time addressing abortion and marriage issues, which led to a Vatican-led investigation begun under Pope Benedict XVI. The inquiry concluded last year, with both sides saying they were happy with the results.
In its letter to the candidates, the L.C.W.R. asked candidates to pledge “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.”
“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,” the letter says.
"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,” it concludes.
Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.