Media Council Debates Challenges of "Digital Culture"

Works on New Pastoral Instruction

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By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2009 ( The Vatican’s media council is meeting this week in Rome to work on a pastoral instruction that will demonstrate a willingness to dialogue with the “digital culture.”

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Vatican council, spoke of the need for a new instruction on the mean of communication when he addressed the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, under way through Thursday.

The last document of pastoral guidance for the Church’s communicative commitment — “Aetatis Novae” — was issued in 1992.

Since then, Archbishop Celli told the assembly, communication “has not only changed its rhythm, but in some cases also its nature.”
The draft presented by the council was written with the help of “academic experts in the art of communication,” explained the Italian prelate.
The draft “addresses only some aspects,” he added “We have not wished to enunciate the pastoral prospects for the future as the latter should arise from the work of this plenary assembly.
“It is for us to single out and specify the prospects at the pastoral level that might be of help for the local Churches in this field.”
As a guideline, Archbishop Celli noted that the pastoral program should offer “a clear willingness for a frank and open dialogue with the ‘digital culture.'”
In review
The plenary assembly will also evaluate the council’s activity since the appointment of Archbishop Celli — on July 27, 2007 — as its president.
During that time the media council has worked to establish a working relationship with the three faculties of communication of the pontifical universities in Rome, as well as with those of other universities around the world.

To that end, the council held an international congress for communications faculties of Catholic universities in May 2008, gathering representatives from 45 universities from 40 different countries.

The media council has also given special attention to the promotion of Catholic radio. In June 2008, it convoked the first world congress of Catholic radio stations, which was attended by representatives of 41 countries.

Another priority of the council over the past two years has been to help bishops understand the importance of social communications. Apart from working one-on-one with bishops around the world, the council organized a seminar last March that was attended by bishops who represented 80 countries, that is, almost 75% of the Church.

The five-day conference reflected on the Internet’s evolution in recent years: Web pages, blogs and social networks — including Facebook, YouTube, Fliker and Twitter.

On the occasion of Benedict XVI’s message for the 2009 World Day of Social Communications, which the Pope addressed in particular to the young people of the digital age, the council launched the Web site, which received 5 million hits during its first 15 days online.

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