The Personal Touch in Media-Church Ties

Conference Focuses on Complex Relation

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ROME, APR. 26, 2001 ( When it comes to the Church and the media, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput emphasizes the personal touch, an aide says.

«For years he has personally answered over 100 messages a day,» Francis Maier, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, said of his ordinary. «He could delegate this task to his team, but he has decided to answer personally, as it is a means that encourages personal relation.»

Maier´s comments came during the fourth International Conference of Institutional Communications, being held in Rome today and Friday, by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. The motto of the congress is «Quality Communication Between the Church and the Media — The Diocesan Press Offices and Episcopal Conferences.»

The conference is focusing on the complex and often troubled relation between the Church and the media. Participants include Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (see Documents); Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman; and media correspondents.

Maier, who is responsible for communications in the Denver Archdiocese, said «personal testimony is important» and praised his own archbishop´s way of dealing with correspondence.

«If you write the bishop, you can be sure that you will have an answer within a week, and that your letter ends up in his hands,» Maier said. «It seems trivial, but it shows the pastor´s attention to his flock. No one can say that the bishop has ignored him.»

«Moreover,» he added, «the bishop thus obliges his team to behave the same way, in order to avoid problems of isolation. So the expansion of the work of all the people is encouraged, including that of journalists. This is why the archbishop has given his telephone number to the most important reporters of the city.»

Speaking about Catholic communicators in general, Maier concluded: «The New York Times reporters are not more intelligent than we are; they are not better than we are. Yet in our work, we must offer the same competence, professionalism and rigor. We must show that capacity to forgive, which is proper to the Christian, including as regards critical reporters.»

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