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UK/ Catholic Voices of a New Humanism

Austen Ivereigh, one of the founders of Catholic Voices, "a school of new Christian humanism", comments on the origins of the project and how it could help mend broken Britain.

A school of a new Christian humanism A school of a new Christian humanism

On the occasion of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010, a group of Catholics in the UK gathered to ensure that Catholics and the Church were well represented in the media. This encounter has become stable, originating Catholic Voices, which describes itself as “a school of a new Christian humanism; and the laboratory of a new kind of apologetics.” Their activity is now giving birth to similar ones in other countries, in Spain, Poland, and many others.

Ilsussidiario.net interviewed Austen Ivereigh, journalist and commentator, who is one of the coordinators of Catholic Voices.

How would you explain Catholic Voices and its mission?
It started with a project to ensure that the Church was well represented in the media during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in September 2010. Now, more than a year later, I describe Catholic Voices as one of that visit’s fruits. Our mission is to communicate – clearly, compellingly, humanly – the Church’s positions on     issues which often lie behind news stories. We call these issues “neuralgic” because they touch on nerve-endings, and often cause people to squeal. They are, by definition, the issues which come up around the dinner table as much as in the studios. In preparing a team of 25 young lay professionals to debates these issues with the Church’s critics, we developed an approach, or mind-set, which I describe, ambitiously, as the “new apologetics”. It involves understanding the positive value behind the criticism, and recognising in that value what is usually a reflection of a Christian value. The Catholic Voices approach is concerned with “reframing” the story, with integrity, in such a way that we can put the Church’s case in a way that is not just reasoned but also compassionate and non-defensive. Through our trainings and in the new Catholic Voices Academy we are furthering our mission to help the Church develop a new, public, universal language – a Catholic humanism, if you like - -that responds to Pope Benedict’s call in London last year for the public square to open up to the reasoning of faith. That call was twofold: for the public square to open to faith, and for Catholics to learn how to take their place in that square, to communicate in a language that is human and universal, not a closed ecclesial language. In sum, what started out as a training exercise for Catholic spokespeople in the media has become a project on the cutting edge of the New Evangelisation. 

How can Catholic Voices help mend "broken Britain"?
"Broken Britain" is a shorthand term for the social breakdown and cultural crisis which many saw as lying behind the outbreak of chronic disorder on the streets of London and other cities in the summer. To the extent that this is a crisis brought about by liberalism -- by an attitude, in other words, which aims at the endless expansion of individual freedom – the Catholic Church is well placed to offer a response.