2012-03-31 Vatican RadioThe Pontifical Council for Social Communications is sponsoring a series of seminars together with bishops’ conferences around the globe to find ways to more effectively communicate the Church’s message in the rapidly evolving world of digital media. The second in the series will be held in Harissa, just north of Beirut, Lebanon from April 17-20. The first conference was held in Rio de Janeiro last year in cooperation with Brazil’s Catholic Episcopal Conference. Seventy bishops participated in the four day workshop.
In the planning stages are further bishops' seminars in francophone Africa, where workshops will address the challenges faced by the local Church, particularly the lack of digital technologies. A conference is being organized for the United States and another seminar is under study for the Central America/Caribbean area and may be organized as early as November.
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, told Vatican Radio, “I think this is an answer to the new challenge created by new technologies… we think one of the more important challenges that the Church has to face in this moment is how to have a real, concrete dialogue with the digital culture, I would say with our people today – especially the young generations because these young generations are involved in the digital culture. It’s their way of living.”
“We have to announce the Gospel because this is the perennial message of the Church: the Gospel of Jesus. And we think that we have to announce the Gospel (by) using languages, a language that our people today can understand – and this is a real challenge for the Church today and we are invited not to lose time.”
This April’s seminar in Lebanon will bring together some fifty bishops and twenty priests already working in the field of communications in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the Holy Land, Jordan and Iraq and is being coordinated with the help of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East. The four day encounter, focusing on the theme “Communications in the Middle East as an Instrument of Evangelization, Dialogue and Peace,” follows on the heels of the 2010 Synod for the Church in the Middle East. Pope Benedict XVI is expected to travel to Beirut in the Fall to present the post-synodal exhortation of that Synod.
Archbishop Celli points out that the Lebanon seminar also comes ahead of the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization in October.
The Archbishop says the bishops attending the Lebanon seminar will be invited to reflect on how the Church communicates in the Middle East. And given its 17 different confessional communities, Lebanon, he notes, offers the ideal context in which to conduct a meeting of the region’s Latin and Eastern Catholic rites, such as the Maronite, Greek Catholic, Syriac, Copt, Chaldean and Armenian churches.
“All the Church is invited to be present and to meditate, to think about how to face this new challenge,” says Archbishop Celli. “I think it will be a very important moment to have bishops together with priests to think about their reality and to define where we can go, what we can do, how we can have a common effort to be instruments of peace, instruments of dialogue and to announce the Gospel.”
As part of the discussions, the Archbishop says he expects to hear how the Middle East’s church leaders respond to challenges posed by the region’s faith-based and secular media, and to Pope Benedict’s call for a new evangelization.
“The Church can favour with her presence, reconciliation, peace in these territories” says Archbishop Celli who urges those working in communications to be fully conscious of their Catholic identity and confident in the Truth of Jesus Christ to be credible Christian witnesses in the region.
“The Catholic media in the Middle East must follow such an invitation of Pope Benedict. It means we know what we’re going to announce; we are witnesses of the Gospel. But also we are called to be witnesses of the Truth of Man because in this moment of promoting peace, Man must be at the center of all our efforts.”
Listen to Tracey McClure’s interview with Archbishop Celli: