God Has a Role in The "Mediasphere"

Archbishop: God Has a Role in The "Mediasphere"
Highlights Catholic Media Networking Web Site

DALLAS, Texas, FEB. 2, 2009 (www.Zenit.org) - God has a role in the media, and the Church should have a voice to evangelize souls through all modern means of communication, says the social communications council president.

Archbishop Claudio Celli affirmed this Friday at a conference that ran through Sunday, and was sponsored by the New Evangelization of America. His presentation was titled: "The Role of Mass Communications in Evangelization."

The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications spoke of the interrelational nature of the Triune God as the theological basis for understanding the importance of communication.

He pointed out that "communication is not just another activity of the Church but is at the very essence of its life." He explained, "The communication of the good news of God's love for all people, as expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is what unifies and makes sense of all the other aspects of the life of the Church."

The prelate stated that without communication there is not evangelization, and that emerging mass media should be used to this end. He highlighted the importance of being both technically and culturally prepared for the task.

2 keys

Archbishop Celli continued: "I would suggest that there are two dimensions to this required cultural attentiveness; in the first place, it is important for the communicator or evangelist to know the general culture of his or her intended audience -- to know their cares and concerns, their fears and their hopes; in the second place, he or she must be familiar with the specific culture challenges presented by the new media environment where significant changes in patterns of media consumption have been brought about by the changes in technologies."

He underlined his hopeful stance faced to the cultural context, based on fact that humans are created in the image and likeness of God whether they recognize it or not.

The prelate added: "Having been created in the image and likeness of God, it is rooted in our human nature that we should desire to be loved and to love. This insight gives me absolute confidence that the core message of the Gospel will continue to resonate in the hearts of humans."

"Our mission," he said, "is to bring the good news of God's infinite love for all to our brothers and sisters as the greatest service we can give to them." He stated, "Our evangelization is never about building up our own numbers or about increasing our influence but is always concerned with liberating people from the false gods that can so easily and stealthily invade their existences."

Part of the chorus

The pontifical council president underlined the need to "attend to the specific media culture that is coming into being in the context of the ongoing revolution in the technologies of communication."

He spoke of the Church's challenge, "to consider how it will seek to communicate its message in the context of a new emerging culture of communications."

He continued: "The logic of communications has been radically changed -- the focus on the media has been replaced by a concentration on the audience which is increasingly autonomous and deliberative in its consumption of media."

The archbishop underlined the need to study the new patterns of media use, their effect on the public, and the development of interactive or "dialogical forms of teaching and presentation."

Communities and networks are formed through the internet, he observed, creating a "digital continent" where "almost one third of all humans" come together to "seek information, to express their views and to grow in understanding."

He added: "God and religion are not excluded from this mediasphere; quite the opposite, both have a new social role in it, and are subject of debate in a kind of global 'search for meaning.'

"The Church is part of this chorus, one voice among others, proclaiming the image of God which the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the Gospel."

Honing strategy

Archbishop Celli recognized the presence of the Church on this "continent," through the Web sites of Catholic organizations and dioceses, the blogs of priests and religious, and various networking sites.

He asserted: "We need to develop a more strategic and integrated presence.

"We must move forward together to ensure a more efficient, articulated and cohesive presentation of the Good News. We must enhance communion between the thousands of initiatives that are already emerging.

"Each one has its own particular charism and rationale, but each one is called to reflect the universal mission of the Church."

The prelate highlighted a new project being developed with the pontifical council, a web database of Catholic radio and television broadcasters and producers: Intermirifica.net.

"The hope," he explained, "is also to expand the database to include listings of Catholic podcasting, news agencies, newspapers and the communications departments of Catholic universities."

He concluded by referring to the example of St. Paul, "whose commitment to proclaim the Good News to all people led him not just to travel tirelessly but also to strive selflessly to understand those he wished to evangelize."

"The commitment to reach out to others," he said, "requires that we are willing to change in order to be more eloquent and more authentic witnesses to the faith that we proclaim."

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