VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In his message for World Mission Sunday 2003, John Paul II says that “in no other age has the Church had so many possibilities to proclaim Jesus as [it has] today, thanks to the development of the means of social communication.”
So is it possible to evangelize with information? For an answer, ZENIT approached Gerolamo Fazzini, co-director of the missionary review Mondo e Missione of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
Q: What can a missionary review offer given the present information scene?
Fazzini: In a context that tends to globalize news, and in a scene that runs the risk of falling into cultural homogenization, a missionary review is distinguished by its totally identifiable and original point of view: that of the Church directed to evangelization, to the meeting with men of all continents and all cultures.
If it is faithful to its charism, the contribution of a missionary review to the information scene can be, therefore, very important, because it is irreplaceable. It presents the living witness of men and women who proclaim Christ in the different continents; it recounts the progress of the Gospel in the world; the miracle of a Church that is multifaceted in its richness yet united around the essential.
The appreciation of events and problems is not, therefore, that of a specialist in geopolitics or of an ascetic theologian, but that of the mission that has become concrete history, that assumes cultures and discovers their inner richness and polyhedral character in the light of the Gospel.
Q: What are the issues that you address on which others are silent?
Fazzini: The list would be long. I think, first of all, of the condition of Christians in the world, which in some cases is marked by discrimination, at times by persecution and even martyrdom.
I think of the wars that bloody the planet, which in general are not on the front page, because they are fought by the poor who kill other poor.
I think of the cultural and human treasures that are disseminated among peoples and that the media help us appreciate only on rare occasions, because they do not have the possibility of penetrating in a concrete way the daily life of people.
I think of the relation between the Gospel and development, of the experience of missionaries who, in restoring to man the dignity of a person, promote a genuine rescue. This cannot be understood by those who limit themselves to adopting merely technical and economic recipes.
Lastly, I think of globalization, the totem of our times, praised by some as the panacea to all evils, and accused by others as a global scapegoat. We try to give a careful reading to the different nuances, without ideological spectacles.
Q: A missionary review addresses many issues that are also addressed by agencies and magazines of social interest, such as NGOs. What distinguishes you from these publications?
Fazzini: It is certainly not the “confessional” character, but the point of view of faith — a faith that is not satisfied with confirming ethical principles, but confronts personal life, the Christian interpretation of what is happening in history and in society. A missionary review conceives human development as something inseparably linked to evangelization and vice versa.
If we speak about some concrete topics, for example, environmental issues, a missionary review, concerned about the fate of the planet and of man who inhabits it, has perhaps a less catastrophic view than others, as in the light of faith it trusts in the resources of human intelligence and in man’s capacity to “rule the world,” as the Bible says.
Q: What message does a missionary review give this world?
Fazzini: A message of freedom. In not obeying the laws of the market in a tyrannical way, missionary reviews continue to dedicate themselves to give what “does not make news” in the name of values that are different to those of the market. This does not mean that one must not confront the public, be concerned about quality, or consider economic questions.
In the second place, a missionary review can offer the world a message of hope. This might seem a contradiction — our pages are often full of human dramas, wounds, social tragedies. However, we do not produce a review that creates anxiety. The Christian has confidence in the one who has overcome the world and does not surrender before the harshness of history.