Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
readers are not Catholic or even Christians, though also within our own European countries the number of Muslims today is very high). As we have experienced, it is often difficult, for example, in discussions after the Pope's address in Regensburg, but in the end positive results can also be obtained.
Attitude and Qualities of the Ecclesial Communicator
The ecclesial communicator -- whether that of the bishop with whom you collaborate, or whether it is you yourselves in your capacity as his spokesmen or that of the diocese's -- is he who embodies in public communication from time in time the thought, judgments and choices of the community of the Church. Because of this, to take care of her presence -- or yours -- in the world of the media is not a luxury but a duty, which corresponds to the ecclesial mission, since for many -- as already recalled -- there is no direct contact with the Church, other than the one mediated by what is read, seen, or heard through the media.
Above all, one can never cease to insist on the use of clear, simple and comprehensible language, not to be abstract and complicated or specialized. It is true that at times the contents is complex and the addresses must be articulated, but in the end, if we want a message to "reach" and remain in the memory of those who listen to us, we must be able to indicate its central nucleus with simplicity and clarity. If we do not do so, we cannot complain later that partial or misleading presentations have been made. So, if we present a document, we must be able to present a synthesis, a brief communiqué, an inspiring phrase, though for its deeper understanding the reading of the complete document will always be required.
I will give you two recent examples of my work, especially the presentation in the press office of an important document of the Holy See. It was a document of several dozen pages. The presentation, in turn, had two profound but too lengthy and ample presentations; the journalists did not even have the possibility or the time to understand and synthesize in the time they had to publish speedily the first articles and interventions. If the presentations were unsatisfactory, the fault in this case was ours, not theirs.
Another example is that of the recent, tormented case connected with the "Lefebvrites." We have seen, once again, how difficult it is to make "excommunication" or the remission of excommunication understood. It seems to me that today the word "excommunication" is a bad word, which evokes ghosts of the Inquisition and strong emotions and which, therefore, must be presented with great care at the hour of using it.
Then, we must always be truthful and clear. Perhaps it is superfluous to mention it, but I do not think so. The truth must always be told, also when faced by difficult questions. Otherwise, sooner or later we fall into contradictions, which will be thrown back in our face mercilessly, and the harm will be that much greater. The peaceful conscience that derives from always telling the truth is the essential premise to address every situation serenely, no matter how difficult it is. This does not mean that everything must always to told: there can be good reasons for discretion and prudence, but everything that is said must be true, we must be able to assume the responsibility for what we have said. The truth is an essential principle, in the so-called "communication of crises," when we are attacked by scandals or errors. There is nothing worse than to think that the situation can be improved by denying the truth.
When we are presented with questions that deserve an answer, it must be given and we must not take too long to give it. It is good to be willing and to respond -- personally or through a delegated person -- if we are contacted by telephone or e-mail. This generates credibility and confidence, while to slip away or to be reticent generates lack of confidence and suspicion. Timeliness is also important, so as not to make the waves of agitation grow, and not allow the ample diffusion of false or inexact information, which is later difficult to rectify. We must keep in mind that journalists must write news -- it is their job, they are often obliged to do so if there is a topic that is being talked about -- hence, if they do not receive answers that command attention, they naturally tend to develop hypotheses or conjectures, or give their own explanations. We must also realize that today information is a continuous live flow through the network and sites, and there is no time of day to respond, until tomorrow's newspapers are printed. Therefore, the sooner the answer or correct information is given the better. In general, it is best to channel or guide information by being the first to give it, and not have to run after information that is incorrect.
Of course, the quality and authority of the positions and ...
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