Catholics have crucial role in healing our polarized nation, new book highlights

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Father Aaron Wessman, G.H.M. penned a book, The Church’s Mission in a Polarized World. It was published Feb. 20 by New City Press. In his words, the book aims to help readers “discern a way out of the toxicity in which we live, and to stimulate courage and hope.”

Father Wessman served in the Diocese of Raleigh as administrator of Holy Spirit Parish in Windsor and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Plymouth. He left the diocese in 2019 when he was elected to a leadership role within his community, the Glenmary Home Missioners, which is based in Cincinnati.

Calling the culture war metaphor used by Christians for decades a “cancer within the Church’s missionary endeavors,” Father Wessman said the book is an examination of conscience of sorts, a call for Catholics and other Christians to confront the Church’s culpability in contributing to an atmosphere of anger, hate and resentment. 

“Christians including myself must ask how the logic of polarization is undermining the fundamental tasks of the Church in the world,” Father Wessman said.

Throughout the book Father Wessman attempts assiduously to be non-partisan.

“If one is a Christian, one’s identity as a Christian should be the preeminent identity in one’s life,” he said, adding that Christian faith should open people to the vast mysteries of the world, not close them off to different ideas, people, cultures and experiences.

In The Church’s Mission in a Polarized World, Father Wessman offers a way for the Church to respond to polarization in light of its call to live as Jesus’s followers in this world.

"This is a very significant and timely publication,” said Bishop Paul D. Tighe, secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education. “It offers a detailed and sobering analysis of the emergence of polarization in both political and ecclesial life. More importantly, it offers believers a reason to hope by challenging them and showing them how to be people ‘who can cross over’—to be disciples who follow the example of Jesus in seeking dialogue and true encounter with all our brothers and sisters."

Father Wessman, an emerging voice in Catholic thought, is a priest of the Glenmary Home Missioners. He is the society’s first vice president (vicar general) and director of formation. Glenmary Home Missioners is a Catholic society of priests, brothers and lay coworkers who serve the spiritual and material needs of people in Appalachia and the rural South. Learn more at