LIMA, Peru, SEPT. 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic news agency ACI Prensa, which specializes in information on the Church in the Americas, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Since October 2003, it has published an English version, under the name Catholic News Agency.
In this interview with ZENIT, Alejandro Bermúdez, the agency’s director, assesses its performance over the years and explains the spirit of its journalism.
Q: How did ACI Prensa arise?
Bermúdez: ACI Prensa was an initiative of a relentless apostle of the media in Peru, German Comboni missionary Adalberto Maria Mohm.
He had a simple idea: to create a news agency to achieve two objectives: first, to inform Catholics on what is happening in the Church — let us say, an “intra ecclesia” mission — and, second, to offer the world a reliable and well-informed source on the life of the Church — rather, an “extra ecclesia” task.
Q: In these 25 years, has the nature of the news on the Church in Latin American changed much? Could you explain the evolution?
Bermúdez: In fact, many things have changed, and much of that change has to do with the immediacy that Internet allows.
But, speaking of specific changes, I would say that 25 years ago, the Church in Latin America, during all the period following the episcopate’s general conference in Puebla [Mexico] was a reality that had to be explained, almost discovered.
Now, instead, the Church in Latin America is known for its new ecclesial expressions, the boldness of its bishops, the vitality of its laity; therefore, it is a constant source of information which many Catholics worldwide look to.
The challenges have also changed. Twenty-five years ago it was unimaginable that the cultural debate of the region would include critical topics such as abortion, the legalization of homosexual unions, euthanasia or cloning. Today, Latin America is integrated to this negative aspect of globalization which, sadly, does not have a positive equivalent.
Q: What differentiates, or should differentiate, a Catholic agency?
Bermúdez: Its option for man. The option for Christ is a reality of profound anthropological consequences, and a Catholic agency has that reality as its point of departure.
Everything that enriches our humanity, directing it to its greatest progress, full communion with the Father — as Pope Paul VI explained in “Populorum Progressio,” when speaking about the ultimate end of human progress — is the principle that moves each of the individuals and processes of a Catholic agency.
That leads me to think that, if I wasn’t a Catholic, a Catholic agency would be one of the few I would trust, if not the only one. Simply because of its option for man.
The simplest, anecdotal and fleeting news is completely suffused with this reality and, therefore, never loses present importance. Suffice it to look at a secular newspaper of a year ago — which hardly serves to wrap up fish — although I think this custom is preserved only in some popular markets of the region.
If you read, instead, news from a Catholic perspective, it is alive! Therefore, it is like good wine. It does not grow old [or] ages. That is why I am so enthusiastic about working for the Catholic press: as Mary, Lazarus’ sister, I think we have “the better part.” And I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.
Q: Why did ACI Prensa decide to start Catholic News Agency?
Bermúdez: The English-speaking Catholic, especially in North America, has a decisive role in the future of the Church. There is a very important concentration of Catholics in North America, from the numerical point of view, as well as many resources, not only financial, but intellectual and enterprising.
There are very good agencies, such as ZENIT, which respond to this public. CNA’s idea is to provide local news of the Church, as one of the things that seems to be missing is the synergy between the numerous Catholic activities and initiatives of all sorts that are found in the United States and Canada.
That is why the CNA headquarters are not in Lima but in Denver, Colorado. In this connection, CNA is at the service of local Catholics, to know what other Catholics — perhaps around the corner — are doing, and thus be able to establish links with those initiatives.
I firmly believe that the synergy between the numerous initiatives and apostolates in North America is one of the greatest outstanding gifts that English-speaking Catholics can give themselves and the universal Church.
* * *