Two years ago, in March 2020, the Initiative hosted its last in-person Public Dialogue. In these two very tough years, the United States has experienced:
—A global pandemic with nearly a million lives lost in the United States, lockdowns, closed schools and churches, and conflicts over vaccines and masks;
—Two presidential impeachments, one election, a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and legislative paralysis;
—The ongoing Russia invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan;
—Police killings of Black people in our streets and on our screens and a racial reckoning in our cities and hearts;
—U.S. Supreme Court arguments on abortion, voting rights, immigration, and the death penalty;
—Continuing anguish in the wake of the clergy sex abuse crisis; and
—Pope Francis’ moral leadership: standing alone in St. Peter’s Square at the onset of the pandemic, visiting Iraq and Lesbos, writing Fratelli Tutti, and calling a Synod to listen to laypeople.
In the last two years our Initiative has offered 44 online dialogues on COVID-19, faith and politics, racism, human life and dignity, and other issues, reaching an amazing 154,000 viewers across the nation and beyond. But we miss opportunities to be together and in-person experiences of community and solidarity – chances to listen and ask questions, to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. So, with great hope and excitement, the Initiative is hosting its first in-person dialogue in two years.
In the musical Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson returns from France to find a different country and asks, “So what did I miss?” James Madison responds: “Thomas, we are engaged in a battle for our nation’s very soul. Can you get us out of the mess we’re in?” This dialogue will examine our nation’s soul after what have been through and how to “get us out of the mess we’re in.” It will use Catholic social teaching as a lens to look at COVID-19, politics, and faith over the past two years. What are the impacts of the pandemic and the lessons we should draw from them? Where are we now? What are hopes and fears for the days ahead? Pope Francis reminds us that we can’t go back to normal, so where should we go?
Five remarkable writers, thinkers, and emerging leaders will help us understand what we have been through, what it has cost us, and what we need to do:
—David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times on politics, policy, and culture and a PBS Newshour commentator. He is author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (2019).
—E.J. Dionne is a columnist at the Washington Post, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, and a professor in Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He is author of several books, the latest of which is 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting (2022).
—Christine Emba is an opinion columnist on ideas and society and editor at the Washington Post as well as author of the forthcoming book Rethinking Sex: A Provocation (2022).
—Mirka Sosa (C’23) is a junior at Georgetown University from Texas, studying government and Spanish. She was recently named a Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow. Georgetown President DeGioia nominated Mirka for this honor to recognize her work with immigrants and the Latino community.
—Anne Thompson is an award-winning reporter with NBC News. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she covers the environment, COVID-19, Pope Francis, and the Catholic Church.
John Carr and Kim Daniels, co-directors of the Initiative, will moderate the conversation. Kim is a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and a member of the communications commission for Synod 2021-2023. John is the former director of justice and peace efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Initiative invites all those who can attend the dialogue at Georgetown to join us for food and drinks at a special reception immediately following the event to celebrate our coming back together.
PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
This gathering will comply with COVID-19 protection measures, including:
—Seating in Gaston Hall will be at a reduced capacity
—The reception will be outdoors in tented space in front of Dahlgren Chapel
—All those who attend this dialogue must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or attest to having a medical or religious exemption from being vaccinated.
LIVESTREAM AND ACCESSIBILITY
For those who cannot join us in person, the dialogue will be livestreamed and live-captioned. A link will be sent to all those who have RSVP’d on the morning of the dialogue.
All in-person or online accommodation requests should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 25. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.