By Paul De Maeyer

ROME, FEB. 3, 2012 ( Is it possible to talk about the life of the Church in a brilliant and fascinating way?

Can the magisterium of the Pope, his encyclicals and homilies be explained without boring readers?

Can the Good News still attract interest and conquer people's hearts?

Does it make sense to speak of journalism and Catholic communication workers?

In what way is it possible to overcome the prejudices linked to the Catholic Church?

To respond to these and many other questions, the eighth Professional Seminar for Church Communication Offices is being organized by the faculty of Institutional Communication of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

The international seminar will be held in Rome from April 16-18, with the theme "Church Communication: People, Faces and Stories."

Registration for the seminar is open through March 31, and to learn more ZENIT interviewed professor Father José María La Porte, dean of the faculty of communication at Santa Croce.

ZENIT: Is the subject of faith an issue that is of interest to the mass media?

Father La Porte: Faith has an overwhelming fascination and informative force that has not changed in the course of the centuries. If the media dedicated more space to what really counts with the public, then the radical questions on man's existence would be an issue of great interest and news.

ZENIT: Some believe that the media's interest in this pontificate is less than in the previous one. What do you think?

Father La Porte: That it's not true. Suffice it to think of the World Youth Day in Madrid (1.5 million young people) or the interesting debate on the common good generated in the course of the Pope's trip to Germany (with his important address in Parliament), or the last meeting in Assisi with the representatives of several religions, agnostics and atheists. If there has been a change it has to do with the way the media has reacted to the topics proposed by Pope Benedict XVI.

ZENIT: What are the objectives of the international seminar that will be held in April?

Father La Porte: The seminar hopes to offer ideas, share experiences, give answers to the challenges that communication professionals in ecclesiastical institutions are facing. The debate will go deeper from the scientific and university point of view.

ZENIT: What are the novelties?

Father La Porte: For this eighth edition we decided to concentrate on the a burning topic: that is, Christian witness in the course of a profession. We hope to discuss the way to incarnate the communication of the Church in personal living, faces and stories.

ZENIT: Why concentrate on this?

Father La Porte: The Holy Father has reminded that the truth of the "Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives." This phrase-message from the 2011 World Day of Social Communications, is especially relevant if we think of the proclamation of 2012 as the year for the new evangelization and of faith.

ZENIT: In what way can this topic be included in the dioceses' communication program?

Father La Porte: We believe that the task of communicators, who work for the Church and the Christian community, is to go beyond the writing of press releases. The idea is that they must publish brilliant and attractive information and news. To do this, it is necessary to communicate the meaning of the experienced lived, so as to make known the passion, the love and the charity with which the life of the Church is described and to give voice to the many activities of the Christian communities.

ZENIT: Which is the most effective means of communication?

Father La Porte: Audio-visual means seem to be particularly important (including radio) and the comprehensive social network, however we wish to specify that the technical means are not the main topic of the symposium but, rather, the communicative relationship between faith and personal stories.

ZENIT: Why this insistence on personal experiences?

Father La Porte: Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have always insisted on the concept: faith is not something abstract, it has something to do with me, with you, even if we meet on Twitter or Facebook.

ZENIT: Does this idea of personal encounter not clash with the globalization of the anonymous?

Father La Porte: Increasing, with the spread of digital processes, are contacts between persons, even if often we witness a reduction in the quality of relationships, which fosters a certain anonymity. The challenge is to humanize these relationships, filling them with contents. In this way an anonymous existence can become novelty. The experience of faith, lived and recounted personally, is a powerful instrument to make Christianity known and to transmit it.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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