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What is Catholic Voices?
Catholic Voices is a project which began in the UK to improve the Church's representation in the media, above all in news programs and debates. It started in 2010 with the six-month training of 24 lay people and a priest in preparation for the UK visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Our appearances on over 100 programs at that time made a big impression on bishops and broadcasters alike and we were urged to continue.
Since then the project has grown in many ways in the UK and has spread quickly around the world: there are currently 12 active CV groups in the world, in Europe, the Americas and Australia (see the list of contacts and websites here).
In the UK, we have continued to train speakers via our national speakers' training programme -- since the first one in London in 2010, we have held trainings each Autumn in Leeds in 2011, Bristol in 2012; and Manchester in 2013. In 2014 we will be holding the training in London again.
More speakers means more availability to the media. In 2013, during the papal transition, we managed to do around 200 interviews, meeting the intense demand for CVs on national and local media. Many clips are in the "media" section of this website.
We run regular meetings -- usually monthly briefings, talks and debates -- under the auspices of the Catholic Voices Academy (info on the latest events can be found in the Academy section of the website). The purpose of the Academy is to hear Pope Benedict XVI's call for Catholics in the UK to make their voices heard in the public square. That means learning to think in terms of the common good, and developing arguments that convince in a culture dominated by the ethic of autonomy.
Out of the Academy have also come various initiatives, including our campaign in favour of the law continuing to uphold conjugal marriage (read our briefing paper here); also the Hildegard Group, which meets regularly for an discussion of the themes of womanhood, feminism and the Church.
At the heart of the CV project is an approach and a method which allow Catholics to understand why the criticism of the Church can be intense, and how to identify with the (usually distorted Christian) values behind that criticism. The method, which we call reframing, is designed to avoid the defensiveness and self-defeating responses which many Catholics instinctively deploy in the face of hostility; and it lies behind our books and materials. The latest, published in the US, is Austen Ivereigh's How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice (Our Sunday Visitor).
We are often asked to give workshops and trainings, as well as media consultancy work.
Catholic Voices does not represent the bishops' conference of England and Wales in the media (contact the CCN) but has its blessing.
You can download our latest brochure here.
If you would like to be involved, or support CV in any way, please contact the coordinators by writing to them at firstname.lastname@example.org