Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
"Communication for Communion"
MADRID, Spain (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, delivered today at an annual meeting of the communications commission for the Spanish bishops' conference.
The speech is titled "Catholic Media: the Communicative Experience of the Holy See," at an annual meeting of the communications commission for the Spanish bishops' conference.
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The Church has always been a communicator; proclamation is part of her very nature. For this reason, the heralds of the Gospel have always the means at their disposition to communicate the message of faith to others. At first the living Word, then the first writings and their multiplication through copies.
After many centuries, the press rapidly became the essential way for the proclamation. Finally, the last century marked the advent and massive diffusion of new instruments of communication: cinema, radio, television, electronic communication through the Internet, e-mails, etc. The Church has attempted to use these new ways to carry out her mission in her various realms.
The Vatican means of communication have also followed this historic development: Typography and 16th-century editions; L'Osservatore Romano, 1861; Vatican Radio, 1931; Vatican Television Center, 1983; the Internet office in the 90s.
A Positive View of Social Communications and Their Evolution
The Church's magisterium has been conscious of the development of the instrument of social communications and has dedicated many interventions and documents to them, so that in a certain sense one can speak of a doctrine of the Church on social communications.
The Popes' documents are numerous. Vatican Council II dedicated a Decree to them ("Inter Mirifica"), which was followed by the Pastoral Instruction on Action ("Communio et Progressio," 1961). As an event, the council was a great occasion to stimulate communication between the Church and the world; from it were born the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Holy See Press Office as an "open door" between the Holy See and the world of social communications.
The Church's documents highlight with objectivity the problems related to social communications and the risks and ambiguities that their use implies. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that as a whole they reflect a positive point of view -- we can even say optimistic -- on the development of social communications and the possibilities they offer to put the Church's mission into practice. The documents' titles themselves sound attractive: "Miranda Prorsus" (Remarkable technical inventions), "Inter Mirifica" (Wonderful technological discoveries), "Communio et Progressio" (Unity and progress).
I believe we must share this attitude and try to cultivate it. Hence, my advice is not to have a fearful attitude or one of negative prejudice towards social communications and their agents, but to do everything possible to take advantage of the apostolic possibilities in the use of the instruments of communication, in two main directions in order to serve them:
--The proclamation of the Gospel and the message of the Church.
--The building of communion and of the ecclesial community.
We find an up dating of the reflection and teachings of the Church on social communications in the documents published in the course of time by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (for example: The Church and the Internet, Ethics in Social Communications, Ethics in Advertising, etc.). Then the series of messages for the annual Day of Social Communications help to reflect in greater depth every year on the specific points and problems of a moral, educational and pastoral character, thus contributing to the progress of a common conscience of the problems of the media in the universal Church. This year's message on "new technologies and new relations" is one of the most effective among the most recent ones. I believe it is a very positive thing to launch these topics at the international level: It encourages the development and the exchange of experiences and initiatives of collaboration among the different countries, for example, what is being done in Spain and Italy on new technologies and new relations in the pastoral care of young people. How is the experience of Web xt3 faring, developed by the Australians to enrich World Youth Day, favoring contacts between young people of different parts of the world, and then continuing after the day in Sydney? How is the preparation of the day in Madrid connecting with this experience?
This introduces a reflection, which it seems to me is important, on the relation between the traditional and new means in our ecclesial service.
We all know that today there is a great number of people ...
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