Austen Ivereigh

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Austen Ivereigh (born March 25, 1966) is a UK-based Roman Catholic journalist, author, commentator and biographer of Pope Francis. A former deputy editor of The Tablet and later director for public affairs of the former archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, he frequently appears on radio and TV programmes to comment in stories involving the Church. He is Fellow in Contemporary Church History at Campion Hall, Oxford.[1]

Austen Ivereigh, author and commentator

Ivereigh was the founder and coordinator of Catholic Voices, which trains people to put the Catholic Church's case in the media, and regularly contributes to a number of magazines and newspapers such as America, Our Sunday Visitor, and The Guardian. For many years[when?] he has been connected[how?] to Citizens UK (formerly London Citizens) as the first leader of the "Strangers into Citizens" campaign, and was for a time[when?] lead organiser of West London Citizens. He is author of Faithful Citizens: a practical guide to community organising and Catholic social teaching, Catholic Voices: putting the Church's case in an era of 24-hour news, both published by Darton, Longman & Todd, and How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice (Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2012).

Education and Writing[edit]

Ivereigh was educated at the Benedictine public school, Worth, and was, briefly, a novice member of the Society of Jesus.

In 1989 he joined St Antony's College, Oxford, as a postgraduate student. In 1993 he completed a D.Phil. thesis for the University of Oxford titled Catholicism and Politics in Argentina: An Interpretation, with Special Reference to the Period 1930-1960, later published as Catholicism and Politics in Argentina, 1810-1960.

He has been Deputy Editor of The Tablet, editorial adviser to The Way, and associate editor of Godspy. He currently writes for America magazine's "In All Things" blog, while also contributing regularly to America magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, The Tablet, The Spectator, and others.

In 2014, Ivereigh published The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, a biography of Pope Francis. Hugh O'Shaughnessy wrote in The Observer, "Dr Ivereigh’s exhaustive book on the first pope from the New World follows Paul Vallely’s excellent Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, in making better known the life and thoughts of this son of Italian immigrants to Buenos Aires."[2] In The Washington Post, Elizabeth Tenety wrote, "In pushing the church forward, Francis today insists that 'God is not afraid of new things' and that the complexities of human life are not necessarily black and white. 'Jorge Bergoglio’s radicalism comes from his willingness to go to the essentials, to pare back to the Gospel,' Ivereigh writes. Francis found his way to the essentials while putting in place the post-Vatican II spiritual renewal in his Jesuit order by focusing on 'poverty, holiness, missionary focus, obedience to the pope and unity.' During his time as provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina, he attempted to reorient a politically charged church culture toward the spirituality of everyday holiness."[3]

Ivereigh followed up with a second biography in 2019: Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church.

Work for the Archbishop of Westminster[edit]

In October 2004, Ivereigh was appointed press secretary to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, working alongside his public affairs adviser, Sir Stephen Wall. After Sir Stephen's departure in May 2005, Ivereigh was appointed director for public affairs, a role which combined both positions.

Ivereigh speaking at an interview for an Argentinian newspaper.

Ivereigh travelled with the Archbishop to Rome for the conclave where "it was, if not Ratzinger, who? And as they came to know him, the question became, why not Ratzinger?"[4]

Press allegations and resignation[edit]

On 18 July 2006, Ivereigh resigned as the cardinal's director of public affairs following allegations by the Daily Mail. The allegations were the subject of legal proceedings initiated by Ivereigh in the High Court of Justice against Associated Newspapers Ltd. (ANL). A trial in February 2008 was inconclusive, but at the retrial in January 2009 the jury unanimously found that Ivereigh had been libeled.[5] He was awarded £30,000 in damages,[5] and all costs,[6] estimated at £3m. Ivereigh said his reputation had been "comprehensively vindicated".

Awarding costs against the Daily Mail, Justice Eady said that Ivereigh had achieved an “unqualified victory” against the newspaper's “intransigence”, and had done so “in light of the sneering, belittling of his personality and his character made by the defendant”. Associated Newspapers, the judge said, "chose a strategy that in the end yielded nothing and are to be regarded as ‘in substance and in reality’ the losers."

Catholic Voices[edit]

In August 2010 it was announced that, together with Jack Valero, Austen Ivereigh would head up a media group, known as Catholic Voices,[7] which was set up to respond to opposition to the visit of the Pope to the UK in September 2010.[8] It has since continued its work to provide a range of Catholic lay people for media interviews in support of Catholic viewpoints, and offers training and workshops. Inspired by the success of Catholic Voices, similar groups have appeared across the world, notably in Spain and Mexico, where Ivereigh and Valero have travelled to give training.


Authored Books[edit]

  • Catholicism and Politics in Argentina, 1810-1960 (New York: St Martin's Press; Basingstoke: Macmillan in association with St Antony's College, Oxford, 1995)
  • Faithful Citizens: A Practical Guide to Catholic Social Teaching and Community Organising (Wandsworth: Darton Longman & Todd, 2010)
  • How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot-Button Issues (Huntington: Our Sunday Voice, 2012)
  • The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (New York: Henry Holt, 2014)
  • Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church (New York: Henry Holt, 2019)

Edited Books[edit]

  • The Politics of Religion in an Age of Revival: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 2000)
  • Unfinished Journey: the Church 40 Years after Vatican II: Essays for John Wilkins (New York; London: Continuum, 2003)


  1. ^ "austen.ivereigh | Campion Hall". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  2. ^ O'Shaugnessy, Hugh (4 January 2015). "The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope review – 'exhaustive and detailed'". The Observer. Retrieved 31 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Tenety, Elizabeth (28 November 2014). "Book review: 'The Great Reformer,' Pope Francis, by Austen Ivereigh". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Goodstein, Laurie and Elisabetta Povoledo. "Before Smoke Rises at Vatican, It's Romans vs. the Reformers," New York Times. 11 March 2013; Ivereigh, Austen. "Does cardinal confusion spell a long conclave?" Archived 16 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine Our Sunday Visitor. 11 March By Austen Ivereigh; excerpt, "A former communications director to the Archbishop emeritus of Westminster (England), Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, he accompanied the cardinal to Rome in 2005 for the funeral of Pope John Paul II and election of Pope Benedict XVI"; retrieved 2013-3-12.
  5. ^ a b "Mail in libel payout to Catholic aide over abortion claims". Press Gazette. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Mail pays Church aide libel costs". 30 January 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Home | Catholic Voices". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  8. ^ Donovan, Paul (30 August 2010). "Is Pope Benedict's media team up to the challenge?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 May 2019.