Common Ground Initiative

The Catholic Common Ground Initiative was inaugurated by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin with the release of a statement, Called to Be Catholic: Church in a Time of Peril, on August 12, 1996. It originated in a concern that unnecessarily polarizing differences among church leaders and members hinder efforts to build the church community and to carry out its mission. The statement proposes working principles for dialogue within the church and expresses the conviction that such an effort will transform those who engage in it as well as strengthen the church for its mission in the new millennium. The ongoing work of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative represents both a call to renewed dialogue within the church and an effort to undertake and exemplify that kind of dialogue. The Initiative is guided by a thirty-six member committee, chaired by Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Principles of Dialogue

  • We should recognize that no single group or viewpoint in the church has a complete monoply on the truth.
  • We should not envision ourselves or any part jof the church a saving remnant.
  • We should test all poposals for their pastoral realism and potential impact on living individuals as well as for their theological truth.
  • We shold presume that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith.
  • We shold put the best possible construction on differing positions, addressing their strongest points rather than seizing upo the most vulneralbe aspects in order to discredit them.
  • We should be cautious in ascribing motives. We shold not impugn another's love of the church or loyality to it.
  • We should bring the church to engage the realities of contemporary culture, not by simple defiance or by naive acquiescence, but acknowledging, in the fasion of Gaudium et Spes, both our culture's valid achievements and real dangers.