Direct IMPACT that Catholic Voices had on the media contributing to the perceived success of the Pope's visit in 2010 amidst the volatile negative climate surrounding the Catholic Church in that year
Even if people are interested in knowing about various religions and getting inspired from them, a lot many get put off from the topic when religious intolerance begets riots and uproars in a city, an instance that was observed in America when the issue of burning the Korans arose. Also, the issue of the New York Islamic centre sparked a number of controversies (Ingebretsen, 2005). One way that the Catholic Church and Pope have been able to avoid such criticism in the past is by befriending the media. One of the most recent examples of this is the formation of the group -- Catholic Voices -- the primary purpose and objective of this group was 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"[footnoteRef:1] [1: CV Future Coordinators Report Oct 2010-page 1]
The paper will aim to understand the history of the media and the Catholic Church. The first few pages will highlight organization like International Catholic Organization for Cinema (OCIC) and the International Catholic Organization for Radio and Television (Unda) that have existed over a long course of time with the sole aim of the Catholic Church and Pope befriending the media's structures in the radio and film industry to establish control over what was released to the masses. The aim was to always project a positive image of the Church and the Pope's activities. The focus will be on the progression of penetration that was made by the Catholic Church since the early 1920s. The paper will then turn the focus to the Catholic Voices group and analyze whether its creation was actually a majorly innovative move by the Church or Pope; furthermore it will also be discussed whether or not the actual formation of the group and the training of all its member was necessary in light of the history that the Church and media have had.
The International Catholic Organization for Cinema (OCIC) and the International Catholic Organization for Radio and Television (Unda) were both formed in 1928. In 2001 these two organizations were merged and SIGNIS and what is known as the World Catholic Association for Communication came into being. The OCIC and Unda had one major common interest: to make the Catholics, who had good professional positions in the film or television media, come together. The reasons why the Catholics had always been so interested in the television and film media is very obvious: to propagate Christian or Catholic values in the large number of people who watch these films or listen to these radio shows. Although, both these organizations were formed by the Vatican, they were not influenced by Vatican as they worked in a democratic fashion, thus their policies were made by the prominent media members. Since SIGNIS was formed by merging OCIC and Unda, its archives have materials from both the organizations.
The Catholics, since the very start realized the benefits and the negative aspects of film media[footnoteRef:2]. The International Union for the Catholic Women's League, in April 1928 invited the Catholic representatives who were actively involved in the cinema. The basic purpose for inviting these representatives was to internationally organize their work in the realm of theater management, production, film reviews and distributions, in order to help the Catholic families and their children. The Catholic representatives were called from 15 Latin American and European countries.[footnoteRef:3] [2: Roland Cosandey, Andre ' Gaudreault and Tom Gunning (eds) Une invention du Diable? Cine ' ma des premiers temps et religion (An invention of the Devil. Religion and Early Cinema) (Laval/Lausanne, 1992). Guido Convents, Cattolici e Cinema (1896 -- 2001), in: Gian Piero Brunetta (ed.) Storia del cinema mondiale. Americhe, Africa, Asia, Oceania. Le cinematografi nazionali, Volume 5 (Torino, 2001), 485 -- 517. Robert Molhant, Catholics in the Cinema. A Strange History of Belief and Passion. Beginnings: 1895 -- 1935 (Brussels, 2000).] [3: OCIC was in the 1950s until the 1980s very involved in the International Centre of Films for Children and Young People (ICFCYP/CIFEJ through the Belgian Dominican Fr Leo Lunders 1905 -- 1986), who was an international pioneer of children's cinema and of censorship. [Leo Lunders, La censure des films et l'admission des enfants au cine ' ma a ' travers le monde (Brussels, 1959) or Leo Lunders, Los problemas del cine y la juventud (Madrid, 1957).]]
This first International Catholic Congress for Cinema resulted in the formation of the International Catholic Office for Cinema (OCIC). OCIC's main task was to ensure the promotion of the films that promoted Christian values as well as edified the film audiences. In those early days the main concern of the OCIC was the promotion of good and quality films. In the hopes of doing so, many large networks of the Catholic organizations rose who were basically concerned with writing good and educational scripts for the children as well as screening the films for the children. OCIC tried to approach the film industry by itself as well. Dr. Georg Ernst from Leofilm A.G. (founded in 1917) in Munich, was the first president of OCIC[footnoteRef:4]. The activities performed by the OCIC as well as the Unda quickly became very important for the countries in the non-west as, their activities were very important for the Catholic missionaries of the non-western side who were dealing with the media (Convents and Beeck, 2009). [4: See the history of OCIC written by the Canadian Le ' o Bonneville (1920 -- 2007), published as Soixante-dix ans au service du Cine ' ma et de l'audiovisuel (Quebec, OCIC, 1998)]
The Catholic radio producers, in the late 1920's realized that the radio, like film industry could prove to be a very important channel for spreading Catholic values among masses. They also wanted to use the radio to stand against the communism and fascism (in the 1930s). Radio Veritas was founded during the cold war in Philippines-even now in 2008 this is still an important radio channel in the Asia[footnoteRef:5] -- along with the policy of establishing radio stations in Latin America and Africa. Catholic radio stations, being present in the Muslim countries, such as Pakistan is significant and very well documented[footnoteRef:6]. [5: In 1963, the German Government granted the assistance upon the request of the Archbishop of Manila to build a powerful radio. After six years, in 1969, Radio Veritas Asia was inaugurated and test broadcasts for various languages were conducted. Today, with Radio Vatican, it is one of the most powerful Catholic radio stations in Asia.] [6: Nadeem John Shakir, Pakistan 50 years of Catholic Broadcasting Association Lahore, SIGNIS Media, 3 (Brussels, 2006), 24.]
There were many radio stations in the region of Latin America that played a very important role in the struggle for the distinction and privileges of the working class[footnoteRef:7]. Unda had the policies since the very beginning that encouraged the Catholics to not only make the religious programs but also educational and social. In order to do that, Unda encouraged the Catholics to work with the private as well as public broadcasters, because initially most of the catholic radio channels in the Asia were very conservative and usually ignored the social issues. Television, like radio also played a very important role as it catered a very large number of audiences and thus crossed many boundaries[footnoteRef:8]. [7: Bolivia. 50 an " os de Radio Pi ' o XII o el Indio-Radio, SIGNIS Media, (2), 24 -- 25 (Brussels, 2007). Costa Rica. Treinta an " os de radio cultural por los campesinos, SIGNIS Media, (2) (Brussels, 2007), 24.] [8: In 1979, the Jesuit Kevin Francis Kersen submitted his thesis for a Ph.D. At the University of Wisconsin -- Madison: The structures, activities and policies of Unda, the International Catholic Association for radio and television (6 Volumes), in which he gives a description of the members and the organisation of Unda in the 1970s.]
Both Unda and OCIC had strong similarities among themselves. Not only did they both have the same goals, but they also had the same central managerial configuration and regional establishments across the world with a huge and widespread network of national members. It has been observed that Unda and OCIC have a very strong and obvious bond with Belgium and the previous Belgian colonies (Convents and Beeck, 2009). Since 1933 OCIC's secretariat headquarters have been in Brussels. OCIC, since 1928 has had four secretary generals:
Fr Joseph Reymond from France,
Fr Jean Bernard from Luxembourg) and Yvonne de Hemptinne and Robert Molhant from Belgium (Convents and Beeck, 2009)