Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Bad news must be communicated soonest and at once (not little by little). If there have been errors, we must ask for pardon. Only thus can we think of being forgiven.
In regard to the section on "asking for pardon," attention must also be paid to the juridical implications, so that responsibilities are not attributed that do not exist. In the most critical cases, a legal consultation is important.
Communication at the Service of Ecclesial Communion at All Levels
The instruments of Catholic social communication are essential instruments for the building of the Christian community and of the wider human community.
If there are communications of the diocesan press, radio or television, or of greater extent, they must be encouraged, also if it is necessary to evaluate their quality and usefulness and the means they require; at times it is necessary to give way to new initiatives. Today, for example, it is indispensable to guarantee an effective presence of the diocesan reality on the Web. However, it is necessary to recall always that communication -- above all in the Church -- is a value that requires energy and entails costs, but which rarely generates revenues. In this connection it is necessary to help our superiors to have a long view, to keep in mind that there are returns and results that are not monetary but important, so that it is worthwhile to invest and spend, otherwise they will not be obtained. Often it is necessary to dedicate financial means or to seeks to have them help communication not only from the point of view of the availability of the material instruments, but also and even more so, for the formation of qualified and capable people.
As I said, communication, both as information and as circulation of other messages, testimonies, further reflection, etc. must be at the service of ecclesial communion.
"Communication for communion" has become for me in the course of time a persistent motto, which continually inspires all my work as communicator and which I regard essential to indicate to my collaborators inspiration and orientation in their work of ecclesial service as communicators. It is a more concrete motto than might seem at first glance: it guides the options of language, of the approach to listening and of benevolence to all the interlocutors, the pleasure of creating moments of dialogue and mutual understanding, also in the ecumenical and inter-religious field, etc. It is a decisive approach: I always want to speak only to unite, not to divide. I believe we must all realize that communication is the powerful and effective way to build ecclesial communion, this is the premise to make the concrete decision to support it and to promote it wholeheartedly.
The discourse of communication for communion is articulated, naturally, at several levels: in the diocese, but also beyond its borders, in order to be open to the horizons of the region, the country, the continent, and the universal Church. Indeed, it is precisely social communication that is the principal way to unite daily the faithful to the wider community of the Church, immersed in the world.
It is a theme that I have very much in mind, because I believe that to nourish the dimension of union of the universal Church through communication, building bridges between the local Churches and Rome, is, in fact, the principal mission of the means of the Holy See in which I have worked for 18 years.
I am ever more convinced that good communication in the Church needs the integration of the different levels of communication, each one of which is necessary, and they must be complementary among themselves: the local level (parochial or diocesan), the intermediary level (normally national) and the universal level. The Bishop, the Episcopal Conference, and the Pope must be present on the horizon of the Catholic community and of each faithful as member of the Church.
In the use of the instrument of radio communication: this has been realized increasingly in several countries. Sometimes in a positive and effective way, for example in France: there are diocesan radios that are united in a network at the national level (RCF, Radio Chrťtiennes in France) and which receive and re-transmit Vatican Radio's programs in French, including them in their programming. It seems to me to be the most desirable and balanced solution, not only technically but also ecclesiologically.
I think one must seek, in the respective countries, the most effective ways of collaboration in the field of social communications, to guarantee at the same time the vitality of the local communication and the wider dimension, which gives the sense of the universality and union of the universal Church.
This is the direction that has been given in many countries, and it is natural that it so be.
In this connection, the function of the Vatican means of communication must be seen as a service that attempts to integrate the indispensable communicative commitment of the local Churches. We do not consider ourselves absolutely able to embrace all communication in the Church, but we do consider ourselves as the central nucleus of a very great network spread out in a capillary way throughout the world.
I can speak more concretely about Vatican Radio, which, in fact, prepares programs in so many different languages, which are always more effectively placed in the programming of the Catholic radios that are growing in the whole world and that receive them regularly either through satellite or the Internet, while the direct diffusion on short waves serves above all for countries where there is, or cannot be, local Catholic radios.
Something similar is what we do in the Vatican Television Center, which make available to TV of all types, and also to Catholic TV -- as Popular TV -- the images of the Pope's activity, which constitutes a precious and important point of their programming. However, given that Web TV is developing rapidly -- as it costs less and is more flexible, we have taken the route of the production of brief video news on the daily activity of the Pope, and we collaborate with other Catholic television agencies to produce and spread information easily accessible in this way.
I think it is necessary to enumerate here in detail all the informative and documentation services made available from Rome. I recall only that, in addition to Vatican Radio and the CTV (Vatican television Center) you can find L'Osservatore Romano in several languages (weekly editions) -- Web site www.vatican.va, rich in documentation and information (also the Bulletin of the Press Office with the complete texts of the Pope's addresses rapidly published, and the news of the Vatican Information Service ). Services carried out by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (worldvision for Christmas and Easter; the Digital Network of the Church in Latin America (RIIAL), etc.). (Other information can be provided in the time dedicated to questions and answers).
A Glance By Way of Conclusion
To conclude, I will say that ours is a very dynamic period, which opens ecclesial communication to many possibilities and that must be lived with serenity and enthusiasm.
It is true that there are great informative powers before which we feel small and poor, but it is also true that the Church has great vitality and is close to the real life of people.
We must not have a too centralized vision of the Church; we must balance universality with local creative capacity. We must be able to encourage local initiatives, know how to circulate positive experiences and exchange them, try to coordinate and integrate the contributions for communication at the different levels, always appreciating the informative and communicative value that the universal Church offers us.
We must have confidence, the Spirit is working. I want to recall the words of the concluding paragraph of the last Apostolic Letter of John Paul II of 2005, dedicated precisely to the "Rapid Development of the Social Means of Communication":
"To the agents of communication and, especially, to believers who work in this important realm of society, I renew the invitation that from the beginning of my ministry as Pastor of the universal Church I have wished to launch to the entire world: "Do not be afraid!"
Do not be afraid of the new technologies, as they are among the wonderful things!" -- "Inter miriifica" -- which God has placed at our disposition to discover, use, and make the truth known, including the truth on our dignity and destiny as his children, heirs of the Eternal Kingdom.
Do not be afraid of the world's opposition! Jesus has assured us "I have overcome the world."
Do not be afraid of your weakness and incapacity! The Divine Teacher has said: "I am with you all days until the end of the world." Communicate the message of hope, of grace and of love of Christ, always maintaining alive, in this passing world, the eternal perspective of heaven" (No. 14).
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Father Lombardi, Catholic Media
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