Kathryn Lopez interviews Cheryl Calire as part of Catholic Voices training recently in New York. Photo courtesy Catholic Voices USA
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BRAINTREE -- Do you find yourself at home arguing with TV news anchors, radio hosts, and print columnists, wishing someone would defend your Catholic faith? Are you a practicing Catholic who prays for clear voices on news programs who actually believe what the Church teaches? Do you feel called to be one of those defenders?
Catholic Voices USA offers training to ordinary Catholics in all walks of life who want to publicly make the case for the Church in truth and love in the public square. Based on a successful British model, Catholic Voices do not speak officially for the Church but answer the call for laypeople to publicly witness to their faith as an apostolic project of the New Evangelization.
On the weekend of March 8 through March 10, Catholic Voices USA will be conducting an intensive media training session for Catholics in the New England area who want to commit to making the case for the Catholic Church in the public square. Participants will be briefed on the Catholic Voices approach on several current issues and then participate in mock radio and TV interviews. The training is being held at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Braintree.
Catholic Voices USA provides a "new apologetics for the New Evangelization," explained Austen Ivereigh, co-founder of Catholic Voices and author of "How to Defend the Church without Raising Your Voice."
The March training is based on a British model that was developed in preparation for Pope Benedict's 2010 apostolic visit for the beatification of John Cardinal Henry Newman. Catholic Voices helped change the media climate in Britain, making it more open to the Church, simply by making available media-ready voices for TV and radio, and by writing op-eds and letters to the editor.
This past spring, Ivereigh and Catholic Voices co-founder Jack Valero came to the United States to share what they have learned during a weekend training for Catholics hailing from New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, to prepare for the bishops' Fortnight for Freedom last June. Since then, Catholic Voices has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, among other outlets, as well as a regular presence on Catholic media including CatholicTV and The Good Catholic Life radio program.
Catholic Voices efforts to train lay Catholics to represent the Church in the media was highlighted at the recent Synod for the New Evangelization in Rome, as well as at an international congress on the Church in America held at the Vatican earlier this month.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a gathering of U.S. Bishops in Rome for their ad limina visits by speaking of the "need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Cardinal Seán O'Malley have also spoken about this need and in favor of the Catholic Voices approach in the United States.
"We just completed a Catholic Voices training session in New York, and it was really exciting to see people take to the methods so quickly and enthusiastically," said Kim Daniels, a religious-liberty lawyer and co-director of Catholic Voices USA.
"It's not surprising, though, because so many of us want to be equipped to talk about Catholic beliefs in a natural, convincing way. That's what Catholic Voices does, and we're looking forward to bringing that to Boston," she said.
"In my experience, so many Catholics just need a little confidence boost, ongoing spiritual nourishment and catechesis, and community," said Kathryn Lopez, a journalist who helped establish Catholic Voices in the U.S. and who serves as a co-director of the organization. "We're not meant to be alone -- this is true in media, too. Catholic Voices seeks to provide a help to producers and editors looking for good guests and content and provide support for those who want to defend the Church with love."
Scot Landry, secretary for Catholic Media in the Archdiocese of Boston, is excited to host the Catholic Voce training here in Boston.
"I was privileged to attend the Washington D.C. training last year as I was invited to brief Catholic Voices on the issue of physician assisted suicide. It is a great method of sharing the Catholic perspective on the hot-button issues of the day in a civil way which can be a great help to both the Church and to the media who seek to present well the various sides of these issues."
There are 16 available slots for Catholics in the New England area for the March 8-10 training. More information and the application can be found at CatholicVoicesUSA.org.