Catholic Media Group Picks Australian as First President

Congress That Created Signis Concludes

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ROME, NOV. 27, 2001 ( Australian Sacred Heart missionary Peter Malone is the first president of Signis, the organization that combines OCIC and Unda, the Catholic film, radio and television associations.

Malone, a specialist in film arts, had been president of OCIC since 1998. He was elected Signis´ president during the world congress that gave birth to this organization. The congress ended today.

The new vice presidents, elected by the 500 participants in the meeting, are Asian and European: Augustine Loorthusamy, professor of media communications in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Gaye Williams Ortiz, associate professor at Ripon and York University College, and BBC radio and television program producer and presenter.

Among other things, the congress helped to appreciate the difficult challenge that faces all communicators today who wish to evangelize through the media, as Father Pierre Belanger revealed on Vatican Radio. Until today, Father Belanger was secretary-general of Unda.

«In very many realms, to engage in religious communication is certainly not an easy undertaking from the financial point of view,» he said.

«The support of the economic community is often not very great,» he added. «There are many areas in the world, including in the West itself, in which commercial, governmental and para-governmental organizations do not want to have too direct or too evident relations with organizations that are officially linked to a specific religious confession.»

Given the situation, Father Belanger disclosed that Catholic communications organizations decided to dedicate «particular attention to formation, especially in developing countries.»

«In our organizations, interest in formation has existed for a long time,» he added, «But in recent years there has been an accentuation: We have realized the importance of reinforcing the professional character of our personnel to support them in their insertion in the work environment, thanks to the quality of their work.»

«One third of the projects we have, for example, with the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples, in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, have the dimension of formation for our members,» Father Belanger revealed.

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