Living Faithfully in the Public Square

After working for two decades as a policy adviser for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, John Carr has retired—but he’s not done yet. In May 2013, Carr sat down with Sojourners editor Jim Rice, senior associate editor Rose Marie Berger, and editorial assistant Dawn Araujo to discuss his next journey and the future of the Catholic Church. He also had a lot to say about Pope Francis’ contagious spirit—(see ‘Simple is the New Chic,’ by Jim Rice in the September-October 2013 Sojourners)—which may transform the world’s largest Christian church.

Read the full transcript of this illuminating interview with John Carr.

JIM RICE: I wanted to start by asking you about your new Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. You’ve said that the purpose is to equip and assist Catholic lay men and women in bringing the fullness of Catholic social teaching into public life. Sounds like a big task.

JOHN CARR: It’s a little less complicated than world peace and social development. I always tell the story of getting on an elevator with one of these ridiculously large name cards. It said National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Secretary for Social Development and World Peace. A couple got on the elevator and looked at me and said, “Well, you’re not a bishop.” My wedding ring probably gave me away. But I could see they were reading the rest of the name tag. The guy turned to his wife and said, “He’s in charge of social development and world peace.” She looked at me and said, “You need to do a better job.” So, the fullness of Catholic teaching is a little less foreboding.

RICE: You’ve said that you’re trying to build a shelter where Democrats and Republicans can come together. Tell us what you mean by that and how you plan to go about that task.

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