At long last there is a movement in the Church in Ireland to begin an effective response to the media, secularism and those who know little or anything about the Church. A new organisation, Catholic Comment, has been founded to train spokesmen and women to talk confidently about their Catholic faith in public.
This is an Irish version of Catholic Voices in the UK, and to be honest it is much needed in Ireland. The Catholic Herald has an article on the new organisation here, I note from the comments below it, however, some people are not keen on the idea and have already decided that it will be full of heretics who will dilute the teaching of the faith in favour of fuzziness. Well, looking at the people involved in the Irish organisation, I would have full confidence in the fidelity of Catholic Comment. It has the endorsement and support of David Quinn, the great defender of the faith in the media Ireland today, Breda O'Brien and Senator Ronan Mullen, alongside John Waters and Patricia Casey. That is an impressive lineup.
Catholic Comment aims to help speakers acquire knowledge and skills to communicate clearly and competently in the media. They will do so with respect, goodwill and sincerity, according to their brochure. I would also suggest that they be careful not to become push overs - the UK group have lost a lot of credibility by being seen by many as weak and too goodie goodie.
I presume, then, they will also learn how to deal with extreme hostility and have workshops on nurturing the virtue of charity in extreme cases, much needed when dealing with Irish journalists. Also they will probably have to tone up the nerves and strengthen the will - the Irish media tend to be effective in wearing down Catholics in debate. I suppose combat skills would also be necessary, given that the Irish media interprets "fairness and balance" as being one Catholic verses three or more critics, one of whom is usually a priest or "Catholic theologian". They certainly have their work cut out for them.
So they need our prayers, our support, and yes, people, our money! Yes, my friends, mammon calls. Well actually, perhaps this is a good time to veer some financial support to the group, given that Lent starts tomorrow. As Catholics we have an obligation to support the Church and her mission, and that would include genuine and orthodox initiatives within the Church which promote and defend the Church and her teaching. If you can, perhaps you could send a portion of the alms you will be offering up for Lent to the group to help them start. Ireland is mission territory and this group aims to help the re-evangelization of our country. Imagine how proud we will be when members of Catholic Comment arrive on RTE and are well able to defend the faith effectively and clearly and with competence. The few euro would have been well spent.
The organisation is also looking for volunteers - people who would like to be trained and become speakers. If you are interested, contact Petra Conroy on 086 416 2277 before Tuesday 6th March. So, more information on the organisation can found on their website: http://www.catholiccomment.ie/. We will pray for them, and see how they get on.