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 “We are called to be sowers of peace.”

 As the country journeys through a divisive and contentious general election season, Bishop Gerald Barnes offered an advanced plea for the Catholic faithful to be civil and calm. In a video message released days before the election Bishop Barnes encouraged local Catholics to participate in the election while respecting the dignity of all, regardless of their political affiliation.

 “It must be acknowledged that there are deep political divisions in our country right now. We are struggling and often failing to recognize the dignity of those with whom we disagree,” Bishop Barnes said in his video message. “I urge all to embrace once again the spirit of civility and mutual respect that has always characterized our great country.”

 At press time, the results of the presidential election were not known.

 In addition to Bishop Barnes message, the Diocese offered both pre and post-election Novenas in an effort to help the faithful adopt a prayerful mindset as they prepared to vote, and then processed the results afterward.

 The Novenas pose questions for reflection that touch on issues of faith and public policy, including:

 • How do I defend the right to life especially of the unborn and those near death?

 • Who are the oppressed in my community? How am I helping them secure justice?

 • How will I show respect for others, especially my neighbor or those in my community who are not like me?

 The post-election Novena invites Catholics to enter a process of Lectio Divina, which involves repeated reading of scripture passage, reflection, and prayer. “As we move away from the election and look towards the next four years, let us focus our hope and yearning and expectation on Christ,” the prayer reads.

 The Novenas also include citations from Pope Francis’s just released Encyclical Fratelli tutti, which addresses the worldwide need to restore a culture mutual respect and fraternal love. It even includes a chapter called “A Better Kind of Politics. In it, the Pope calls for states to adopt policies that promote the common good, critiquing both an “unhealthy” populism and an excessively individualistic liberalism. He said that populism could conceal a lack of concern for the vulnerable, while liberalism could be used to serve the economic interests of the powerful.

 Setting out his proposal for renewal, Pope Francis said that leaders should focus on the long-term common good, imbuing their work with what he called “political love.”

 “Recognizing that all people are our brothers and sisters, and seeking forms of social friendship that include everyone, is not merely utopian,” he writes in Fratelli tutti.