Church in Italy Re-Launches Media Mission

Episcopal Conference Presents Directory of Social Communications

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, OCT. 21, 2004 ( Aware of the influence of the media on popular thinking, and of the need to evangelize using modern means, the Italian bishops wrote a new document on social communication and evangelization.

Entitled «Communication and Mission,» the document was approved in by the episcopal conference last May. It is the result of «a laborious endeavor,» which began with the ecclesial congress of Palermo in 1995, and the national congress on «Media Parables» in 2002, explained CEI’s secretary general, Bishop Giuseppe Betori.

In the text, the prelates point out the risk of oligopoly in the media, both in its political hue — because «the role and control of the media has become decisive for the country’s equilibrium and for the development of democracy» — as well as in its social hue — because investments require advertising, and the latter an audience.

On this last point, the result is a lowering of programs, communication increasingly characterized by «the increase of violence, vulgarity and pornography, and of continuous attacks on intelligence and the human body,» the document stresses.

Given this situation, the Church in Italy proposes pluralism, «public participation» in decisions regarding communication, where a role can be played by the authorities and associations of television viewers.

«The absence of control and vigilance ends by favoring an indiscriminate use of most powerful instruments that, if badly used, produce devastating effects on people’s consciences and on social life,» the prelates wrote.

The family plays a very important part in this task, but the Church is also called to combat with a new language the «devastating social and cultural drift.»

CEI’s Directory, therefore, proposes a leap in quality in the Church-media-territory relationship. Because «social communication is an essential component of the New Evangelization,» Bishop Betori said.

The document is intended to «enhance the awareness that the Church exists to communicate the faith» and «to graft on all pastoral action systematic attention to the communicative dimension, to intercept the language of the present media culture, without losing the specificity of the religious communicative codes,» he clarified.

Bishop Bertori added that it is also an endeavor «to offer an active contribution to make ethical awareness and the sense of responsibility grow,» «to help media operators, enhance the union and synergies between the local and national Catholic media,» and «to form and make operative the new figure of the animator of communication and culture.»

The prelates acknowledge that there are communities that «have difficulty in communicating or are not aware of this need,» in addition to «the manifest weakness in the language, forms, and instruments.» They also discovered a certain indifference to Catholic media among the faithful, including priests.

The directory introduces the press office, «now necessary in every diocese.» Among its tasks is the preparation and direction of press conferences of the corresponding bishop, as well as the elaboration of a daily press review.

The idea of an animator of communication and culture is introduced in the renewed function of the parish, which will have its own site on Internet.

Recommendations are also made — in keeping with the Code of Canon Law — on talks by priests and religious on television or other media.

Such talks «will have to be assessed case by case» in agreement with the bishop himself, avoiding participation in «programs of mere entertainment» or those that because of «their place or ways of expression might be labeled superficial.»

CEI’s Directory of Social Communications has been published in a 198-page volume by the Vatican Publishing House, with an accompanying multimedia DVD. The full text in available online in Italian.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation