Signis World Congress Beirut: Media for a Culture of Peace

2013-04-16 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) “Creating Images with the New Generation. Media for a Culture of Peace” is the theme chosen for the upcoming Signis World Congress 2013.
Speaking on Monday at a press conference held at Vatican Radio, the President of Signis, Mr. Augustine Loorthusamy, revealed also that the Congress will take place in Beirut from October 20 to 23.
He said that Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, in the heart of the Middle East is a city striving for social and political change whilst teeming with creative initiatives for dialogue, reconciliation and peace building. He said that the choice of Beirut as the venue for the World Congress is in solidarity with the young voices of the city.
Backing Signis in its task to engage with media professionals and support Catholic communicators in their mission to help transform our cultures in the light of the Gospel by promoting Human Dignity, Justice and Reconciliation, is the Pontifical Council for Social Communications headed by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to the Secretary of the Council, Monsignor Paul Tighe, who says that his dicastery will partake in the ideas and creativity generated by the Congress.
And speaking of the theme of the Congress in which the creativity of the "New Generation" is highlighted, he says there is much to be achieved through a real collaboration between the so-called new generation and those who already have years of experience in the field of media...

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Monsignor Tighe says that personally, as a convinced representative of the older generation, “we are conscious that in general, in terms of understanding media and new media, there is a need for what you could almost call a cross-generational dialogue. In other words young people have an extraordinary amount to teach us about the new technologies, about their creative capacities... they've grown up with these technologies and they are natural for them”. He says "if I approach a new technology or platform I look for the instructions - they just go ahead and use it"..

Equally he says, as an older generation we have a certain wisdom. For example "an interesting debate we had recently was on the concept of friendship. For "generation Facebook", friendship is sometimes understood more quantatively than qualitatively."

For my generation, Monsignor Tighe points out there is no richer experience than that of a good friend. "A good friend is not something that you necessarily acquire simply by going on Facebook..." . In other words he says “we would be interested in questions like "how quickly should you make yourself known to another person?" - "how much time should you give yourself before expressing your opinion?” So - he says - there are some of the more classic communications questions that are more qualitative questions that an older generation can at least raise and flag for a younger generation, and then in discussion maybe come to a richer understanding one of the other".

One thing Monsignor Tighe says he has learnt from young people is that while he can only do one thing at a time, they can really multi-task....

At times, he says, "you find yourself saying: don't reply now - you're annoyed by that email you re upset by that post - but hold back, draft now and think about sending it or posting the next morning, but sleep on it first...” That’s the value of old wisdom!

Regarding the Signis World Congress coming up in October, Monsignor Tighe says the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will partake of the fruits of the Congress itself.

He says that "it coincides with some of our work and some of the themes that are important to us. Our job is to make links, to support, to engage and learn from people who are involved in media, and Signis brings those people to us".

He says the theme is important because it is about building for peace. Monsignor Tighe says he grew up in the Republic of Ireland, “in the shadow of Northern Ireland at a time in which we had a lot of community strife and troubles. Very real troubles. And one of the great things was the healing power of images, the healing power of words, the healing power derived from the capacity to get people engaged imaginatively so they could escape from their own tradition, and appreciate something about the other to build a joint future together".

For me - he says - that “the congress is going to focus on the potential of media to build peace is fantastic, and will help to shape some of our own work”.

Monsignor Tighe underlines the potential of new media to create a culture of dialogue, debate and respect. “If we can use media to focalise on dialogue and respect and growth and understanding in a place like Lebanon, then we can do it anywhere”.

Choosing Lebanon as a venue for the Congress is a brave choice – he says - it is also a way for the Catholic Church to say "this is an integral part of who we are. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is very important to us, not just in a paternalistic way, but: let’s go an learn from them and see the riches that are part of these long established Christian communities."