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Editor opens public space for a new religious conversation

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Father Raymond de Souza follows in the late Father Richard Neuhaus's footsteps

The late Father Richard John Neuhaus said religion moves too slow and newspapers move too fast. He successfully blended the slower moving force of religion with the fast paced environment of the media through his magazine First Things. His pupil Father Raymond de Souza hopes to accomplish the same in Canada with Convivium.

"There is room for a place where ideas are timely but also time for those ideas to be considered more fully," Father de Souza said March 8 before Convivium's Vancouver launch at the Vancouver Club.

"We are trying to make space for a conversation about faith in our Canadian common life that would be of interest to people of faith. But also non-religious people who believe faith can contribute to society."

Father de Souza believes Canadian media choose to ignore faith as part of society's makeup. He said this leads to the perception that religious argument is "exotic or alien."

"I am open to the argument that the secular agenda can drive people out. But we don't have to make this argument because there is a reality of church-going Canadians which just isn't reflected."

Father de Souza believes Convivium will give those Canadians an outlet to express themselves.

"Reading a magazine is an act of formation in a community. We are not meant to live the faith alone, and a magazine actually connects us to people in our country and community."

Convivium is the flagship of the Convivium Project. Father de Souza said the project doesn't view readers as subscribers, but rather as members. He hopes the project encourages members to get involved in the conversation.

"There are going to be things in every issue of Convivium that readers will say?'I thought they were going to write something about that' but there are also going to be things that they would think we wouldn't write about."

The March issue's interview with Rex Murphy didn't focus on religion but instead the public conversation.

However, while the magazine strives to involve itself as "part of the conversation," Father de Souza recognizes that there will be controversy with this.

"Faith makes controversial claims because people view religion as a private matter that should be kept out of public life. This will lead some to consider the existence of Convivium as controversial."

He said on a secondary level controversy may arise over certain issues like education. He hopes that controversy will equip readers with the tools to tackle faith issues in the public square.

"We want our members to be engaged."

For more information about Convivium and to become a member visit

Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 08:30  

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