A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

New Ways to Proclaim the Good News

Interview With Father Thomas Rosica

By Karna Swanson

TORONTO, 26 MAY 2008 (ZENIT)

The Church has a message to deliver, and the challenge of that task today is to do it in a "mediated" world, says one of the hosts of the 2008 International Catholic Media Convention.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who is also the director of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network, added that the Church needs to be "there on the scene, using all the means of modern social communications to proclaim the word of God and the message of the Church."

The three-day international Catholic Convention, to be held May 27-30 in Toronto, will be hosted by the Catholic Press Association of North America, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals and the Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada.

Its theme is "Proclaim It From the Rooftops."

In this interview with ZENIT, Father Rosica comments on the future of Catholic media and their relationship with the secular press.

Q: Why the theme "Proclaim It From the Rooftops"?

Father Rosica: We have chosen as the theme of this year's Catholic Media Convention: "Proclaim It From the Rooftops," inspired by the Scriptures Matthew 10:27 and also by Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter "Rapid Development."

The reality is that the Church must now speak to a highly technological, "mediated" society. John Paul II said that the Church must be present in the new "Areopagai" of the world a world replete with so many competing philosophies, ideas and phenomena. The Church has to be there on the scene, using all the means of modern social communications to proclaim the word of God and the message of the Church.

Q: What new developments in Catholic journalism do you want to see highlighted at this conference? Outcomes?

Father Rosica: The 2008 Catholic Media Convention owes its existence to a collaboration that is rare in any part of the publishing world. In fact, collaboration has been a fact of life among Toronto Catholic media for years. Two unique aspects of the Toronto convention are how we can foster good collaboration among all entities of Catholic media and view our work as part of the New Evangelization.

Second is our concern for the future, especially how we can reach out to the next generation and involve young adults in the mission of communications. This week will be an intensive lesson for North American Catholic journalists in building bridges within and outside the Church as we learn to tell our stories, bear witness to the truth and proclaim our message from the rooftops.

Q: The Pope said in his message for this month's World Communications Day "that seeking and presenting the truth about humanity constitutes the highest vocation of social communication." Does this vision of the role of communications mark a fundamental difference between Catholic and secular journalists?

Father Rosica: Catholic communicators and journalists have a special obligation and mission not only to serve the Church, but to teach the world about seeking the truth and serving the truth.

The secular media misses the mark when the truth, goodness and the dignity of the human person is not part of the story. As John Paul II himself a media expert and master wrote in 2005, in his final '05 apostolic letter titled "The Rapid Development": "Communication both within the Church community and between the Church and the world at large requires openness and a new approach toward facing questions regarding the world of media.

"This communication must tend toward a constructive dialogue, so as to promote a correctly informed and discerning public opinion within the Christian community." Good journalists and communicators must be concerned with truth, goodness, beauty and hope, even in the most dire of circumstances.

Q: What can the Catholic media do to get the message of the Gospel more widely known?

Father Rosica: I have learned some powerful lessons in dealing with the media over the years, especially through the adventure of World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, the suffering and death of John Paul II, and my work with Salt and Light Television and our collaboration with the "secular" media.

It serves no purpose for Church officials, leaders and members to vilify those in the media, to stonewall and not respond to the constant phone calls of this reporter, that producer, some editor. That's the nature of the beast. They don't call it breaking news for nothing.

Nor does it serve any purpose for those in the "secular" media to ignore or marginalize the Church and religious issues, treating them as trivial matters that don't merit serious reflection. We have to learn from each other, and we have much good work to do together to serve the cause of truth and decency in a world that is becoming more devoid of value, virtue and meaning.

Many times in the Church, our stories are non-stories because key elements are missing. In more biblical language, how on earth do we move the light from under the bushel and onto the lamp stand so everyone in the house may see it? How do we learn the difference between old news and the new news with relevance a real story worth telling to the world?

High on the agendas of our 2008 convention is the theme of the so-called hostility of "secular" media to religion and the Church. Is the hostility real or perceived? What can be done to build bridges? The convention will help Church media workers to learn to tell our stories to the world cogently, boldly and courageously.
 

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