At the Catholic Media Conference in June, one workshop presenter examined the 2020-21 flood of vitriol on Catholic social media feeds. Especially through Facebook, soaring nastiness was universal against church journals, bishops, and even groups of priests and nuns.

The presenter, who was from the East Coast, cited one of her favorite responses to the malevolence; it came from the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, a beloved community of priests and brothers headquartered in the rectory of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in tiny Roy, Oregon.

In their policies released in February, the missionaries start with “Dear friends,” a salutation illustrating right off that Catholics are in a relationship based on God, not political leanings.

The rules of these kindly men are clear. Go after ideas and actions, not people. For example, they wrote, it is OK to say, “I disagree with what Archbishop Gomez said,” but not, “Archbishop Gomez doesn’t care about children at the border.” It’s acceptable to declare, “I disagree with what President Biden did,” but not all right to ask, “How dare Joe Biden call himself a Catholic?”

“Everyone, without exception, should be treated with dignity and respect,” the missionaries said. “You may be the best Catholic in the world and the most moral person who ever lived, but that doesn’t give you the right to treat other people with contempt.”

The missionaries said they’d remove off-topic comments and assertions that are “snotty, sarcastic or mean.” They banned debates between commenters on their page, suggesting that interlocuters take it elsewhere. Those who persist in bad behaviors will have banned themselves by their actions.

Bravo to the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. Because of the workshop, many Catholic publications and dioceses are likely to use the order’s policies as a model.

I know that will be the case with the Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela.