Spokesman: Catholic Media Must Be Ethical Model
Urges Speaking to Unite, Not Divide
MADRID, Spain, FEB. 17, 2009 (www.Zenit.org) - Church communication can be a model for secular media, by promoting peace, justice and a vision of the integral human person, noted a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this Monday, during a speech titled "Catholic Media: the Communicative Experience of the Holy See," at an annual meeting of the communications commission for the Spanish bishops' conference.
He spoke about an ethical model characterized by information that relates to man in his integrity, free of "worldly" interests, that seeks peace and reconciliation and that attends to the needs of the most disadvantaged, marginalized from global information systems.
The spokesman explained, "The primary mission of the Church is to communicate in proclaiming the Gospel with all the means at its disposal," thus communication to the world has "as much or more importance" than the internal communication within the Church.
This requires, he said, being attentive "to what is happening in the world today" in order to "give an answer."
Father Lombardi added: "We cannot think of a Catholic communication separate from secular communication, but rather try to see man and his problems from the perspective of the Gospel. We are not interested only in the life of the Church, but rather that of all mankind, with its problems of development, justice, peace, etc."
In this regard, he explained, "the Pope is for us the main commentator on the situation of the world today, in an indirect manner through his teachings and in a direct way through his calls and assessments in relation to the good of the person and of society."
True communication must offer "a vision of reality that does not exclude God," the priest said. He underlined the necessity of "not splitting information between the sacred and the profane." Rather, he said, we must "show that moral and religious motivations are an essential part of the world of life."
Father Lombardi continued: "In a world as chaotic as ours, one of the services that we are called to do is bring order in the way of seeing events, in distinguishing what is truly serious and important from that which is less so."
One of the services that ecclesial communication carries out, said Father Lombardi, is drawing out news from the world reporting circuit regarding the poorest countries and the wars forgotten by global information systems.
He explained that in this way the media performs "a service to justice, responding to the existing imbalance between North and South in the information world," particularly "taking advantage of the possibility that the Church has of giving a more just vision of the problems due to their presence [and closeness] to the people."
According to the spokesman, a recent study in Italy showed that the information about the Third World offered by Vatican Radio "is by far greater than even the sum of all channels of Italian public television."
Moreover, he said, Christian communication "can do a great service to peace, promoting understanding and dialogue."
Therefore, it is essential, the priest explained, "to know how to be patient with tension even at the risk of being criticized," using "with decision, respectful language at all times."
He continued: "Through my experience with Vatican Radio I have learned how important and at the same time difficult it is to help those that live conflicts in the first person, like in the Balkans, which personally involved many of our writers from various language teams."
The Catholic media, he said, "should not let themselves be pushed to give partial information of the governments involved, but rather they should always offer the voice of the Church that sets itself above parties, and continue urging dialogue, reconciliation and peace."
Father Lombardi affirmed: "The instruments of Catholic communication are essential for the construction of the Christian community, and the broader human community. Communication for communion has become for me a persistent motto: To speak in order to unite and not to divide."
Always tell the truth
Regarding the form of communicating ecclesial information, Father Lombardi emphasized the need "to use clear, simple and understandable language."
"If we do not do this we cannot then complain [if others make] partial or erroneous interpretations of the Church's position," he said.
On the other hand, he asserted that in Church communication "the truth must always be told, even in the face of difficult questions." "The truth is an essential ingredient of the so-called crisis of communication when it is attacked by scandals or errors. When a question deserves an answer it must be given without waiting."
"The world today offers the Church many opportunities that must be faced with serenity and enthusiasm," he concluded. "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 a great vitality and that it is close to the real life of people."