July 12, 2010
. With the pope's visit to the UK approaching, the Catholic Church is likely to be discussed heavily in the media. In anticipation of this, a group of lay Catholics are training other Catholics on how to speak effectively to the media on any issue such as politics, clerical sex abuse, the papacy and the beatification of Cardinal Newman.
Volunteer speakers are taught principles of the media, how the media works and what makes a news story. In this way, they can better explain some misunderstandings about the Church's teachings and be prepared to speak on the Church with short notice.
“The training is particularly useful for getting guidance on how to explain our faith and our beliefs clearly to people who don't share those beliefs.”
The initiative was launched in February of 2010 after Pope Benedict XVI's address to the English and Welsh bishops in Rome. He called upon UK Catholics to follow the footsteps of Cardinal Newman in courageously communicating their faith.
Catholic Voices does not speak officially on behalf of UK Bishops but has their blessing.
“Our voice needs to be heard, and it needs to be heard in a way that is accurate and reasonable, not distorted because we have our part to play in British society and we need to be heard.”
Speakers are trained through TV and radio interviews conducted by media professionals.
The interviews are recorded and played back so that everyone can give feedback.
“These are people that don't know the world of media and the world of media doesn't know them. So what Catholic Voices is about is connecting the TV and radio studios with this group of people so it serves both the media and the Church.”
The immediate goal of this bureau of Catholic speakers is to provide speakers on short notice to the various news outlets that will cover Benedict XVI's visit to the UK in September.
The 22 speakers range from ages 20 to 40 and have diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Among them are lawyers, students, a pharmacist, a former Atheist and a scientist.
After the pope's visit, Catholic Voices hopes to continue to be of valuable service to the Church and to the media.