Editorial: Charity instilled in Catholic hearts

  • December 14, 2023

Through the spring and fall of 2023, The Catholic Register and our partners at The B.C. Catholic, Catholic Conscience and the Religion & Journalism Project taught on-line classes in Catholic journalism.

We provided 42 students, ranging from recent high school graduates to retirees, foundational practical training in a journalism practiced as a calling infused with Catholic faith. We taught such basics as interviewing techniques and how to pitch freelance proposals, but also Catholic ethics and the Church’s social teaching on media and communications.

Our intention is to foster an apostolate of journalism. It will build bridges between the Church and secular culture by going beyond writing about the world of Catholic things to writing about the things of the world while fulfilling the Catholic obligation to speak truth in charity.

Recently, the instructors became the students in the most grace-filled way. We staged a mock media conference where our student journalists questioned role-playing instructors who had just announced the $30 million expansion of a community charitable service for the needy.

At the end, we the teachers, all steeped in years of secular journalistic habits, noted with delight that not one questioner called into question the actual dollars spent on the charity project. Our newbie journalists focused their various queries on how more charity might have been effectively provided. One asked if the expansion could include shower facilities for the homeless.

It was a spontaneous, instinctive, active playing out of what we mean by Catholic journalism, and it was noted that its beginnings were not with our online course but years earlier in each student’s confirmation classes. In truth, it started with the charity instilled in Catholic hearts by Holy Mother Church.

What a gift to receive and ponder as we concluded the current course session in Advent, prepare for a new post-Christmas class in early 2024, and look ahead to a potential summer intensive course in July or August.

Alas, there is a lump of coal in the good news stocking. It’s a by-product of political ideology pressuring faith-based best intentions. Our Catholic journalism initiative would seem an ideal beneficiary of the Canada Summer Jobs Program, which provides federal subsidies for student training and mentorship. As one of the partners, for example, The Register could hire young interns and form them in both the professional practices and the social goods of journalism that speaks truth in charity.

We could. But we can’t. We’re effectively forbidden from even applying because, yet again, Canada Summer Jobs dollars are prohibited from going to organizations and institutions that are pro-life, specifically those that refuse to bend the knee in conformity with what is now euphemistically known as “reproductive health,” i.e., abortion.  Indeed, because we, as  Catholic media outlets faithful to the teachings of the Church, oppose certain “legal” practices in Canada – think MAiD – we are proactively excluded from eligibility.

If this has a back to the future sound, it should. The fight was fought several years ago over the inclusion of a signed ideological “attestation” proving applicants for the Canada Summer Jobs Program accepted the federal ideology on life issues. Catholic bishops and religious leaders across the faith spectrum successfully pushed back against that particular violation of basic democratic principles. But now it’s back, with expanded list of ineligible employers. Those responsible simply refuse to get the message, much less give up.

Unless someone, in the name of democratic freedoms, launches a full blown Charter challenge to this unconscionable undermining of conscience, religious and free speech rights, it will continue to bedevil us. Even that faint hope comes with the caveat that it is a 10-year, multi-million dollar undertaking.

Yet hope must never be lost or there would be no point to the journalism we teach. But as our student journalists taught us by their example, there is not only a point but a necessity to nurture such an apostolate. We will have to do it without help from the very government program created for such a purpose. But there are gifts in abundance beyond what government pretends it gives. We know them as God’s grace, and with them we will carry on.

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