Catholic Voices Academy
In his now classic address to Parliament in September 2010, Pope Benedict called for faith and culture to be in dialogue for the benefit of both. In Glasgow, he spoke of the need for “clear voices ... who could put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom in the public square”.
A year after that visit, in September 2011, we created the Catholic Voices Academy. Its purpose is to encourage and sustain the project through monthly briefings, lectures and debates. The focus is on developing common-good arguments based on Natural Law. Its long-term aim is to resist the secularist attempt to drive faith from public policy debates.
The Academy is attracting dozens of committed Catholics –not just the trained speakers– who come to be informed, learn to make the Church’s case in the idiom of the public sphere, and sign up to its communications workshops.
In 2012 the Academy published a briefing paper, In Defence of Conjugality, which argued against redefining marriage on grounds of public good and the good of children.
The Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October 2012 has focussed the Church’s attention on learning to speak to dechristianised cultures of the West. It urges Catholics to develop a “theology of credibility”, making better use of Natural Law and reasoned arguments to put the Church’s case. The Synod is calling for a “new apologetics”.
The body created to coordinate that agenda, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, has shown strong interest in and support of the CV initiative, and we have agreed to share materials and ideas.
Topics that will be studied in the Catholic Voices Academy in the next few months include Authority in the Church, Financial Transparency, Catholic Social Teaching and Business Ethics.