The following comes from an Aug. 4 interview of Mark Brumley, chief executive officer of Ignatius Press, by Sean Salai, S.J.  for America magazine. The interview was published Oct. 15.

People consider you to be a Catholic apologist. What do apologetics mean to you in the context of American culture today?
America is both religious and secularized. As a result, people often mistakenly think they know what Christians or Catholics believe. Apologetics today must first clarify for Americans what Catholicism is and then show how faith fulfills the deep aspirations of the human soul, even in 21st century America! Concretely, apologetics must address such things as the “I’m-spiritual-but-not-religious” outlook, the idea that faith means believing things you know aren’t true, why this “Jesus guy” is so important, why the Catholic Church, and what makes life about more than pleasure and building your 401k.

You’ve worked many years for Catholic Answers and Ignatius Press. How have Catholic apologetics changed or evolved in the course of your work?
I would note three changes: broader subject matter, more resources, and more sophisticated, evangelical apologists. When I started at Catholic Answers, in the late 1980s, we focused on Protestant Fundamentalism. Nowadays, social and cultural issues are important, too: human sexuality (including marriage as a civil institution), the human person, pro-life concerns, religion’s place in the public square, etc. And of course basic questions such as the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, and the claims of the Catholic Church remain essential. Meanwhile, the resources are plentiful—books, videos, audio CDs, websites, phone apps, Catholic radio and TV, etc.  What’s more, many apologists—Jimmy Akin and Trent Horn of Catholic Answers come to mind among others—are first-rate thinkers and don’t simply present other people’s arguments. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Finally, people increasingly see apologetics as evangelization’s “flipside.”  The goal can’t be simply to win an argument, as I say in my book, to dispose people to the work of the Holy Spirit. The New Evangelization is “highway and byway” evangelization—taking Christ to people instead of waiting for them to knock at the rectory. The new evangelists see apologetics’ value and apologists see they must be new evangelists. That’s a significant change….

Your work with Catholic Answers consisted basically of religious tracts, but your media platforms at Ignatius Press include books and videos in addition to web publications. What more can we be doing or using nowadays to share the best of the Catholic faith with people?
First, a little history. Tracts were only a small part of what we did at Catholic Answers. Karl Keating, Pat Madrid, and I published This Rock magazine, held public debates, and spoke in thousands of parishes. We distributed books and audio tapes. We trained others. All that was really before the internet. Ignatius Press, too, was publishing books and distributing videos long before the internet. Now, of course, Ignatius Press has a tremendous web presence. We feature books (print, e-books, and audio books), films, music, websites, Catholic Truth Society booklets, Lighthouse Catholic Media audio CDs, Augustine Institute faith formation programs, and so on. We promote film in theaters and in parishes. Our friends at Catholic Answers, too, have an array of resources and activities in addition to their outstanding daily national radio show, which Ignatius Press co-sponsors. Plus, there are any number of other apologetics organizations—Lighthouse Catholic Media, the Napa Institute, the Magis Institute, and Word on Fire, for example. There is also the big kid on the block, EWTN and its related projects, as well as Catholic TV and the various Catholic radio networks and programs, which feature a lot of apologetics. There’s a healthy supply of Catholic podcasts and a zillion websites. What more can we do? Well, making these things better known is a start. Still, nothing is better than person-to-person contact. Give a book, booklet, a tract, or Lighthouse CD to someone you meet at Starbucks. Invite people to parish presentations. Show a film to friends or other inquirers. Point people via social media to web and other resources. Take it to the streets, as St. Paul Street Evangelization does. Ultimately, parishes and schools need to organize to do more. When that happens on a large scale, it will be revolutionary. In short, there are plenty of “best ways” to share the faith today.

Ignatius Press is publishing three books on marriage and family issues during the Synod on the Family this month. Why did you decide to publish these books?
Remaining in the Truth of Christ is at least in part a response to Cardinal Kasper’s call for a discussion of admitting civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion. The tone is charitable and engaging of Cardinal Kasper’s proposal. It was edited by Robert Dodaro, OSA, with various contributors, including five Cardinals (Walter Brandmüller; Raymond Burke; Carlo Caffarra; Velasio De Paolis, C.S. and Gerhard Müller) and an Archbishop (Cyril Vasil, S.J.) This book focuses on the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, while touching on other themes as they bear on the subject.

The second book is The Gospel of the Family by Juan Jose Perez-Soba and Stephan Kampowski, with a foreword by Cardinal Pell. This work, as the subtitle indicates, goes beyond the Kasper proposal and the debate about Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to talk more broadly about marriage, divorce, and family life.

The Hope of the Family, an interview with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, is broader still, treating the question of divorce and civil remarriage in a key section but mostly speaking about other issues regarding family life, such as the large number of cohabitating couples, Catholics who only marry civilly, and marriage and family life as forms of Christian discipleship.

A fourth related work will be released in conjunction with the beatification of Pope Paul VI at the end of the Synod: On Human Life, a special edition of Humanae Vitae, with accompanying articles by Mary Eberstadt, James Hitchcock and Jennifer Fulwiler.

Divorce and civil remarriage, of course, is an important subject. But, as Cardinal Mueller notes, it’s only one among many important concerns. There are underlying issues of marriage and family having to do with evangelization, faith formation, and discipleship, as well as how “true mercy” and “merciful truth” are involved when people fall short of the universal call to holiness.

As to the timing of the publications, we anticipated that there would be heightened media and church attention in connection with the Synod. It makes sense to try to communicate a message during a time when people are paying attention rather than doing so when you have to do a lot to generate the same level of interest.

To read the entire interview, click here.