Catholic Voices Data Analysis

Catholic Voices

The present study involves the identification of a measure for determining the effectiveness of a group that was organized and is presently coordinated to work as a type of public relations firm for the Catholic Church in a role that effectively disseminates and negotiates information that passes to and from the Church to the political, social, economic, ethical, and religious workings on a global scale therefore making these workings complex and often tedious in nature. This section of this study, or the data analysis, is comprised of a qualitative analysis of the data obtained during the course of this study both through review of pertinent literature that is professional and academic as well as peer-reviewed in nature in combination with self-administered questionnaires/interviews. The questionnaires were mailed to twenty individuals in the Catholic Church however, only three of these individuals actually responded to the request for information. This study sought to answer questions such as what the purpose of the formation nd organization of the Catholic Voices were and how this initiative was media-enabled. There are those who seriously question this group and its objectives.

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Also posed in this study was the question of who sent media to Catholic Voices and why did the media seek out this group first. This work sought to identify the motivations and objectives of the various group members and sought to determine how effective the Catholic Voices were in achieving their objective and asked if the individuals members of the Catholic Voices are important in the media and if so they why. This study asked the question of what limitations existed in planning the objectives of the Catholic Voices and if this was indeed a good idea. Furthermore, this study sought to determine if the Catholic Voices held sway over media as well as measuring the success of the Catholic Voices and specifically in regards to the Papal visit of September 2010. This study desired to know if the Catholic Voices wanted to promote religion and to know who funded the training of these individuals and what is the scope of the Catholic Voices in terms of the services that it offers to the public and society-at-large.

II. Findings

Response to Interviews

The first interviewee JD worked as a communications officer for Westminster although he was not involved with Catholic Voices yet he has a great deal of experience and has observed the Catholic voices from the beginning. The second interview, AD participated in Catholic Voices training. The third interviewee’s information is still pending. AD reports participation in Catholic Voices training and reports that this was a good initiative as the objective was to demonstrate to young people who had the ability to articulate Catholic teaching since they were young laypersons and had the ability to demonstrate the teachings of the Catholic Church. The young people reportedly played a key role in putting forward the teachings of the Church on the more controversial issues.

AD reports that many elements assisted the Papal visit and AD states that God’s grace was clearly applied and the presence of the Pope as well in that the demeanor of the Pope was “very gentle and open and also in the words that he spoke, there were key parts” as the Pope is stated by AD to have demonstrate that many of the preconceptions about him were not accurate and he clearly demonstrated that not only the Pope but the Church as well desires to engage in a dialogue with society. As well, AD states a belief that the Church demonstrated through the Papal visit that it desire to listen. AD contributes the success of the Papal visit to the Pope himself and particularly to what the Pope had to say. AD feels that the program was successful and that the Pope and Queens’ attendance at the outdoor mass in Glasgow with the schoolchildren was a very ambitious program. AD reports that in Twickenham that there was a large attendance and the use of new technology enabled streaming of the visit to school children in the country as well as a live link up with the Gambia, the University of the church which supported the case of the developing world and most specifically in the case of Africa.

AD states that the Catholic Voices in his opinion “did have an impact, which they demonstrated that they are young Catholics who are able to articulate the teaching of the church and how they live their lives and fall by the church teaching and so the impact was not just to outlive the outlandish critics of the visit but I think also to demonstrate that living with such a faith can be joyful and it is joyful, it is also not contrary to reason and there are a large number of people that are able to both articulate that and demonstrate the Catholic faith is alive and well in this country.”

The second interviewee, Paul Priest, University of Greenwich theology and psychology advised the researcher against the research indicating that it would “create hostility on all sides.” Priest states a belief that the Catholic Voices was not “the major force fighting papal protests and the media witch-hunt against the Pope” stating that the Catholic Voices are engaged in dialogue with the “same people who were prominent in it” (the protest against the Pope) The comments of Paul Priest were highly negative and accusatory towards the Catholic Voices as he stated that the entire entity of the Catholic Voices is based on a Saul Alinsky model for the creation of a new social Catholic elite and he claims all of this is only to “reintroduce the fallen Austen Ivereigh back to professional Catholic circles and implement his new vision for catholic social action” which he calls a “highly powerful and lucrative network.”

The third interviewee, Clare Anderson, University of Edinburgh, states that she has heard of the Catholic Voices but was not aware of them in the public arena. Anderson reports a highly successful Papal visit, which she claims to be “directly due to prayer and sacrifice of the British Catholics before the visit. She was surprised she stated by “how much the tabloid newspapers that set out to trash him were enthusiastic.” Anderson states that it was the Pope himself that changed the face of the media on this visit and the polite challenge issued by the Pope to worldly thinking and attributes the media’s treatment of the event to be no less than miraculous.

Organization and Coordination of the Catholic Voices

The questions of why Catholic Voices was formed and organized and how it was coordinated and what media enabled this group are answered in the Coordinator’s Report (2010) which states that the Catholic Voices “…seeks to amplify the voice of the Catholic Church in the British public square, especially in the media and in public debates, by training and briefing articulate young Catholics to act as speakers; offering media skills training to the Church; bringing together and nurturing Catholic public intellectuals; and making available a team of Catholics to put the Church’s case to the media.

The work of Allen (2010) who reports: “Catholic Voices” is the brainchild of two prominent lay Catholics in England: Jack Valero, director of Opus Dei in the U.K. And the press officer for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman; and Austen Ivereigh, a former spokesperson for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster and now a Catholic journalist and commentator. The two collaborated back in 2006 on what they called the “Da Vinci Code Response Team,” identifying people who could answer questions, however off-the-wall, raised by the Dan Brown potboiler. They got the idea for “Catholic Voices” after a London debating society called “Intelligence Squared” sponsored a debate last year on the motion, “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world.” The opposition was led by Christopher Hitchens and the actor Stephen Fry, while the pro-Catholic voices were Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Nigeria and Ann Widdecombe. By all accounts, the Catholic side was routed, creating no small degree of panic among British Catholics about who would speak for them during the papal trip.” (Allen, 2010)

Objective of the Catholic Voices

Allen (2010) reports that the Catholic Voices “is independent of the Catholic bishops’ conference in England and Wales, though they enjoy a good relationship with the official communications channels. Their aim is not to offer authoritative church statements, but to field ordinary lay Catholics who can speak about the church’s faith and life.” (Allen, 2010)

Catholic Voices is reported to be a project to create “a team of speakers, give them media skills training, and make them available to studios now during the papal visit.” (Allen, 2010) The consensus on Catholic Voices is that this idea is “brilliant, we’ve revived apologetics in the era of 24-hour news. We’re getting emails every day from people who have seen Catholic Voices on the TV saying this is fantastic.…


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