Father Cantalamessa Given Communications Award

Urges Preaching Gospel Without Vanity

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By Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, MAY 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Father Raniero Cantalamessa was given the Communication and Culture prize in recognition of his work preaching the Gospel through the media.

The preacher of the Pontifical Household, on receiving the award Thursday, stated: «A priest in the media must be the herald of the Good News. He must not be anything else.»

The prize was given in the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome by the Paulinas Onlus organization, which seeks to promote culture inspired in the principles of the Gospel from a Christian vision of the world, understood as a service to the integral development and growth of the person in the areas of communication and media.
This award highlights those who work in the media, in keeping with the values set out in Benedict XVI’s message for the 2010 World Communications Day, celebrated Sunday.
This year, the Pope dedicated his message to the theme: «The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.»
Capuchin Father Cantalamessa was ordained a priest in 1958. He has a doctorate in theology and literature, and has served as a professor of the History of Christianity at the Catholic University of Milan and director of the Institute of Religious Sciences. The priest served as a member of the International Theological Commission from 1975 to 1981.
As preacher of the Pontifical Household, Father Cantalamessa often gives meditations in the presence of the Pope, the Roman Curia and the faithful on certain occasions such as Fridays in Lent and the Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Priests in the media
On receiving the prize, the priest spontaneously addressed the public and recalled one of the most important moments of his life, which occurred in 1980: «While I was on a retreat, my superior general said to me: ‘Pope John Paul II has appointed you Papal household preacher.'»
«After 30 years, the Popes still endure me,» he said jokingly.

Father Cantalamessa spoke about his work in television: «I don’t know if this is a natural gift or if the Lord has given it to me but, in fact, when the camera lights went on, I didn’t see them. I saw the people, I smiled at the people. People perceived that I was with them.»
He encouraged his fellow priests to have «great faith in the Lord and in the power of the Lord’s word.»
«I believe that a priest is given much faith knowing he is the bearer of news that should be heard until the end of the world,» added Father Cantalamessa.

He warned against the possible dangers for a priest who works in the media: «It can foster vanity.» To avoid this, he said, one must always keep in mind that «we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord.»

The priest noted that the Word of God must resonate in people’s lives, by relating it «to the problems they bear in their heart, to the situations about which everyone is talking.»
«It is necessary to give up difficult and abstract words,» Father Cantalamessa stated. «There is no truth so profound that, with adapted language, it cannot be taken to the understanding of any normal person.»

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