Later this week, something quite new will be happening at The Catholic Thing. In June 2008, we began to bring you commentary every weekday morning from the perspective that we believe represents the richest cultural tradition in the world – the universality in time and space of global Catholicism. Happily, we also have a regular rotation of distinguished writers that I am not afraid to compare with their counterparts at any publication anywhere. We are currently read in more than 130 countries, but since we write from the United States, we have appeared exclusively in English – until now.
Thanks to a generous gift from a shrewd and longtime supporter, this week we will begin to be published in several foreign languages. I was in Rome last week, partly to be present in solidarity at the Consistory in which Benedict XVI raised our esteemed friend Archbishop Raymond Burke and our Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl to the rank of cardinal. But I met with several old friends as well who will shortly be helping us with the syndication of this site in Italian. I also stopped in Paris to reach a final agreement there with Frédéric Aimard, editor-in-chief of France catholique, perhaps the most respected French Catholic magazine from a perspective similar to ours, to publish The Catholic Thing in French.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. Before even leaving home, I had similar conversations with another valued friend, Alejandro Bermudez, who has for many years directed a Spanish-language news service, ACI Prensa, which reaches all of Latin America and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. Alejandro – to my surprise – has quietly developed a Portuguese version of his network, and we will tap into that as well.
Over a decade ago, Michael Novak, one of the founders of The Catholic Thing, started an annual Slovak Summer Seminar on the Free Society. We have been running that productively ever since. One of our alumni, Dr. Martin Luteran, has himself founded the Colegium Antona Neuwirtha in Bratislava. This month, we enlisted his services in translating and publishing TCT in the Slovak journal Posloj.
And we’re not done yet.
Notre Dame de Paris
If you are a regular reader of these pages, I hope your share our excitement at the prospect of reaching even more readers, worldwide, in their own languages from now on. English has become the new lingua franca among educated people around the world, but not everyone who loves the Catholic “thing” and wants serious analysis from trustworthy commentators can make the effort needed to become proficient in English. We are very happy to be able to speak directly to these people.
As I was working out these arrangements in recent weeks, I was reminded of the special role that America and American Catholics in particular have been called upon to fulfill around the globe in our time. I want to be clear about this. America has many faults and shortcomings, and any Catholic who is unaware of being unworthy of the graces he or she receives badly needs to undertake further reflection (Cardinal Burke made a special point of mentioning this during his homily in the Mass he offered at the North American College just last Monday). In that spirit, we do not profess a false humility about the good work we have started, but we do profess an even greater awareness of the unfulfilled needs that we seek to meet.
For example, the pro-life movement in America has literally been the only serious and effective voice for the unborn in the world. As we have mentioned before in this space, that patient work – often seemingly against impossible odds – has had the unexpected effect of changing hearts and minds: an absolute majority of Americans now describe themselves as “pro-life.” And into the bargain, the pro-life movement has encouraged many other groups in other countries – I meet them almost everywhere I travel – who hope to reproduce our successes. There are many legitimate strategies towards that end, of course. In France, as I was told last week by our friend Jean Duchesne, an advisor to the late great Cardinal archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, the cardinal chose not to engage in a direct public challenge to abortion because he judged it would only have been like treating a skin eruption when what was more urgently needed was the deep healing of the whole public organism. Conversations over tactics, such as this, will now become easier in these columns.
We also hope, though plans for this are not as far along, to be able to bring you material from our foreign partners as well. For the time being, if you are willing to tackle the language barrier, you can look at some of them at these addresses:
French: www.france-catholique.frSpanish and Portuguese: www.aciprensa.comItalian: www.corrispondenzaromana.it (others to follow)Slovak: www.postoy.sk
As I’ve talked over these developments with our regular writers, they have passed along all sorts of suggestions. Why not Polish? Or even Chinese? You may have some suggestions of your own, and we’d be happy to hear from you about them. But remember, your editor has limited time and energy, and resources are always limited. (For now I will resist the temptation to harass you with another fundraising appeal, but rest assured we will not send back contributions in support of this new initiative or our regular work.)
But we are delighted at this new step forward and grateful – to you readers, first of all, for your interest and support – as we seek together to carry on this great work of keeping the Catholic thing alive in a world that desperately needs to hear its voice.