Saturday, 25 May 2013

Suddenly a multitude of voices: Catholic Talkers vs Catholic Voices!

You may recall that some time back the Archdiocese of Melbourne launched a group calling itself Catholic Voices Australia, aimed at providing a wider range of potential media spokespeople.

There was some talk of the organisation going national, but a bit of a rethink might be needed on that, because Cardinal Pell has just launched what appears to be a rival organisation sponsored by the Sydney Archdiocese, also with national ambitions, called Catholic Talk.

Catholic Talk

The Archdiocese's website explains:

In the final presentation at The Great Grace Conference, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell launched a new and exciting initiative - Catholic Talk.

Catholic Talk is a group of people who can present views in the media on all issues through a Catholic perspective.

This group comprises a diverse range of Catholics, professional and students, as well as clergy and religious who aim to offer a contribution in the media from the rich Catholic tradition.

Catholic Talk does not speak on behalf of any bishop or diocese but instead seeks to articulate a personal, relevant and clear Catholic perspective in the media.

In launching Catholic Talk Cardinal Pell said it is extremely important the views of Catholics from all walks of life and age groups are represented.

He said; "It can be very difficult to get our views across in the media. We  are all aware of the importance of communication, especially on social networks, blogs and Twitter.  I hope this will provide the opportunity for those who feel they are unrepresented to have the opportunity and platform to have their views heard.

"Also I would like to see Catholic Talk grow into a trusted resource for the media. "

Catholic Talk is a home-grown Australian  response to the call Pope Francis made early in his papacy.

"We need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others."

A website is being developed to support the communications effort of this group. It will also be a hub for an interactive exchange of ideas as well as providing great resources.

"I would like to see Catholic Talk eventually grow and expand. There is a great need for this kind of initiative," Cardinal Pell.

Sydney vs Melbourne?

I actually think its no bad thing to see a bit of rivalry in this sphere: a case of the more the merrier.

And I do see a lot of value in a home grown approach on this one, given that adopting the name of the UK version of this kind of effort comes with some unfortunate baggage attached (Mr Ivereigh, its mentor, has very close associations with the UK 'magic circle' of bishops, being inter alia a former PR man for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Emeritus of Westminster) particularly from a traditionalist and perhaps also conservative perspective.

In addition the focus of the Sydney group seems to be not so much on providing commentary on Church affairs (though it clearly includes that), but also on engagement in the public square more generally.

Both these groups represent very positive initiatives.

But for my money, its the Sydney enterprise that I'd like to see expand!

Here is their introductory video:

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