Be not afraid
to meet the challenges of life in the media age with faith, hope and confidence
I attended the functions for the launch of the Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter on the Church and the Media, Go Tell Everyone, in Sydney, with a touch of scepticism and a great deal of anticipated pleasure. My anticipation was fulfilled in meeting and mingling with Catholic media personnel from around Australia, and the scepticism – just a touch – remains.
Interestingly and positively, Go Tell Everyone has been issued as a document from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and not the Bishops’ Committee on the Media, although that obviously is where the work has been done. One can only hope that all the Bishops read it and take to heart one of its central messages, Be not afraid! In my heart of hearts, I can’t believe that it will make a lot of difference at the user-interface – whether that user be a Bishop fronting a news conference or a parent struggling to entice a child away from television or the internet.
Having said that, though, the message of the pastoral is encouraging and reassuring, if nothing really new, drawing widely on the Church’s rich Vatican documents and Papal statements on social communications from Inter Mirificia (1963) through to Benedict XVI (2005). Its tone and its message is positive. And information contained in the section on “Catholic media” might surprise some readers in the extent of the use of the media within and by the Church, already. It is not a big document and it is very readable, so it is to be hoped that many people will peruse it and take heart from it, using the media with “wisdom and faith”, as "responsible consumers of the media".
Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for the Media, Archbishop Barry Hickey, of Perth, says the pastoral letter acknowledges the pervasive influence of the media in our society and also celebrates the Church’s own media apostolate.
“As Catholics, we wonder how our faith fits into this media culture. How can our faith in Jesus Christ guide us as we navigate the many and varied forms of media which surround us in our daily lives? And how can we take advantage of the opportunities that the media offers to share the Good News of Christ? It is not always an easy path to navigate, but it’s a crucial one and this pastoral letter seeks to take up some of those questions and to offer spiritual and practical encouragement and guidance… We can’t afford to stand still. We have to continually strive for new ways to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world around us.”
My hope and prayer is that the Bishops take their own advice.
A pdf version of the document is available on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ website site, at Go Tell Everyone
Calendar of events
27 People in dialogue: Living in a multicultural society public lecture series: Ecumenically living – Rev. Theresa Angert-Quilter, a Uniting Church minister, Scripture scholar and feminist theologian; Room 10, Blackfriars Building ACU National Canberra Campus, Watson; 7-8pm
1 Ash Wednesday
2 ACU National 2006 Lenten Lecture, Who do people say I am … Who do you say I am …the forming of a special relationship, by the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli; Camberra Campus, Blackfriars Building B10, Phillip Ave, Watson.
Launch in Melbourne of the website, Trafficking in Persons Clearinghouse
3 World Day of Prayer
St Thomas More’s Forum: Balancing business, family and a Catholic life, Tim Kirk, winemaker and general manager, Clonakilla (to be followed by a presentation of Clonakilla wines and cheese), St Thomas More’s School Hall, 30 White Crescent, Campbell; 6.30-8.30pm (entry charges apply)
6 People in dialogue: Living in a multicultural society public lecture series: I am Woman, Muslim, Australian – Shakira Hussein, PhD student at The Australian National University; Room 10, Blackfriars Building ACU National Canberra Campus, Watson; 7-8pm
7 Public meeting for those interested in the Inter-Congregational Anti-Trafficking Working Group New York report; the Cardinal Knox Centre, Albert Street, Melbourne, from 7.30pm
8 International Women’s Day
14 Public meeting for those interested in the Inter-Congregational Anti-Trafficking Working Group New York report, Gleeson Auditorium, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, from 7pm. (People intending to go, please email firstname.lastname@example.org [Sr Pauline Coll sgs] to give organisers an indication of numbers.)
15 – April 5
Sudan Freedom Walk, from the United Nations (New York) to the White House (Washington DC)
17-19 The Transforming Power of God’s Word, presented by the Evangelisation Resources Down Under Bible Institute, at Riverglenn Conference Centre, Indooroopilly, Brisbane.
Searching for Peace retreat, Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality Kew, Vic
27 People in dialogue: Living in a multicultural society public lecture series: Living Judaism in Australia – Dr Anita Shroot, National Council of Jewish Women, Canberra section; Room 10, Blackfriars Building ACU National Canberra Campus, Watson; 7-8pm