Gloria Purvis: ‘I’m not a conservative. I’m not a liberal. I’m just Catholic.’
I have been blessed to live for many years within metropolitan Washington, D.C. I have fallen in love with the city and its surrounding areas. Even today I marvel at the history, culture, art and natural beauty of the city.
But the area’s residents can sometimes be preoccupied with each other’s political associations. This has always intrigued me. Whenever people meet for the first time, it is not unusual to hear them ask each other questions like, “Where do you live?” and “Where do you work?”
Sometimes they ask more specific questions. “Who do you work for?” and “Do you know...?”
Although these questions seem innocuous, they can be a subtle way to learn about another person’s relation to power, especially political power.
It is generally easy to guess a person’s political or partisan affiliation. Often his or her presence at an event, like a partisan lecture, rally, protest or fundraiser, is a strong clue.
However, that is not always the case with me.
In my work in Catholic radio and commentary, I voice my observations and opinions on many topics that cut in different ways across the political spectrum. That’s because a Catholic perspective is much broader than any political perspective. It cannot be politically disintegrated. People will ask me point-blank, “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” I smile.
The teachings of the church, when properly articulated and understood, not only speak truth to power but speak this truth with an unmatched beauty that reflects the nature of God.
The central conviction that animates my work is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Our life and dignity are sacred and inviolable and cannot be discarded or dismissed for any reason.
As such, we have rights and responsibilities that we are bound to respect and protect, especially with regard to the poor and vulnerable among us. We must speak and stand in solidarity with others even when it is unpopular or inconvenient. As a result, you may find me supporting ideas from all over the political and partisan spectrum.
In truth, however, my north star is and will always be Jesus Christ and the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.
These teachings transcend and tower over the shopworn wares of politics and party. Indeed, these teachings, when properly articulated and understood, not only speak truth to power but speak this truth with an unmatched beauty that reflects the nature of God.
Who among us wouldn’t want this truth in place of the snark “gotchas!” and hackneyed narratives that define so many of today’s political debates?
When people meet me, at the Capitol or in a church, they may wonder or even ask me politely, “Are you a conservative or a liberal?” I smile and say “I’m just a Catholic.”
My new podcast with America, “The Gloria Purvis Podcast,” will cut through the political noise that risks skewing our Catholic sensibility and will elevate voices and perspectives that remind us of the beauty of the faith, the importance of going to the margins and the necessity of engaging with others respectfully, even if we do not agree.
I have prayed outside abortion clinics. I have seen the fear in the eyes of pregnant women outside those clinics. I have also seen the relief and joy they experience at their baby showers—the relief that someone cares and supports them during and after the pregnancy. This is what accompaniment means. This is what loving our neighbor means.
I have also been vocal about the evil of racism and police brutality—an evil that some mistakenly justify because the victim is not, in their view, a good person. Upholding and defending the dignity of every person in all stages of life, regardless of their actions or likability or skin color, is what it means to be Catholic.
So when people meet me, at the Capitol or in a church, they may wonder or even ask me politely, “Are you a conservative or a liberal?” I smile and say, “I’m just a Catholic.”