June 23, 2014
RUANE REMY
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

VANCOUVER – Catholic Voices is looking for Canadians to speak up for their Catholic faith.

Originally from the U.K., the first Canadian bureau of Catholic Voices will be launched in October. Based in Vancouver, it aims to provide the news media with Catholics well versed in their faith to comment on contemporary issues.

Catholic Voices Canada is an independent group that trains lay Catholics between the ages of 25 to 40 to share their opinions and the Church's position on hot topics with secular media. It has six people currently in training.

Catholic Voices organizer Peter Nation said the organization's people are meant to present a reasonable, non-defensive and logical face of Catholicism.

"Part of our training is how to best respond to the media," he said, adding that the voices will add the balance to issues that journalists seek.

SUPPORT FOR CHURCH

Candidates should have an interest in and supportive attitude towards all aspects of the Church and its different ministries, he said.

"I'm looking forward to having them as a resource. We get a lot of media calls and I can't always respond as quickly or as fully as I'd like to," said Paul Schratz, communications director for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

PEOPLE IN THE PEWS

"It will be good to get people who are average Catholics in the pews, . . . but informed Catholics who are ready to speak up, speak the views of the Church to the media when called upon." Catholic Voices Canada is independent of the archdiocese.

The organization fundraises to ensure that training is free for all of its voices. There will be initial and ongoing training that includes analysing controversial issues, such as freedom of religion and society, assisted suicide, women and the Church, defending the unborn and conjugality of marriage.

The founders of Catholic Voices, Jack Valero and Austen Ivereigh, came to Vancouver to help train the first batch of Catholic Voices Canada. The pair founded the organization in 2010 in London.

Today, Catholic Voices is present in about a dozen countries.

Nation hopes other Canadian cities will begin Catholic Voices bureaus.