WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the very grounds where Jesuits once helped fuel one of the most divisive issues in American history, slavery, by selling off human beings to pay down the university’s debts, more than 200 individuals gathered on Monday to discuss ways in which a divided country might become more unified by harnessing the powers of Catholic social teaching.

Georgetown University’s Initiative for Catholic Social Thought and Public Life capped off the first day of its summit on “Overcoming Polarization” on Monday with a panel discussion headlined by two of the leading figures in the U.S. hierarchy – Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles – and two of the most prominent women in the American Church – Sister Teresa Maya, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Helen Alvaré, a professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School.

Moderated by the Initiative’s executive director, John Carr – who noted that there are few institutions like the Catholic Church that are capable of bridging divides on a range of contentious issues – the event was at times a sober assessment of the issues facing the Church today, but also a chance to cast a vision of what the country and Church might look like if that polarization is overcome.

Read more at Crux.