Church to ramp up use of media

The Catholic Church in Australia plans to use the media to get its message to a world increasingly reluctant to attend church, according to a report published yesterday in the Sunday Age.

CLICK HEREReligion writer Barney Zwartz said that the church's leadership, which has long been suspicious of the media and on the back foot over such scandals as clerical sexual abuse, plans to guide the church into "the media age". The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will issue a pastoral document in February.

"It's a question of awareness," Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey said. "We live in the media age. Sometimes we're slow to recognise that, preferring just to communicate within the Catholic family itself when we ought to be listening to the world and responding."

Archbishop Hickey, chairman of the bishops' media committee, said it was time for the church to emerge from "defensive mode" and be more energetic.

"The church has had some bad publicity, such as child abuse. It's tried to counter it but not terribly well. We can't let that stop us."

He said the church needed to make better use of television, newspapers, websites and chatrooms. Many dioceses now had media consultants.

"In Perth, we are buying time on Channel Nine to put a weekly message out on prime time on something topical. It's only a minute and that's expensive but it's a message from the church to the public, and it's been well received."

He said parishes should publicise their presence via suburban newspapers.

The pastoral letter, Go Tell Everyone, will also offer advice on how to be responsible consumers of the media. In particular, according to Archbishop Hickey, the church wants to teach children to be more discerning about what they encounter on TV, DVDs, the internet and in music.

Church embraces media (The Age 11/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Council for Social Communications
Australian Bishops' Committee for the Media
Today's Comment with Archbishop Barry Hickey

Archbishop raises voice to fund TV spot (CathNews 9/12/05)
Pope calls for cooperation with media (CathNews 30/9/05)
Bishops Committee launches parish media kit (CathNews 6/6/05)
Pope says media can choose peace or violence (CathNews 9/5/05)

Media empire: Vatican moves from pen and parchment to DVDs, Web (Catholic News Service 9/12/05)
Pastoral Document on the Church and the Media (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, News from the Bishops' November Plenary Meeting, 5/12/05)
Holy See Urges Media to Be Responsible in AIDS Reporting (Zenit 29/11/05)
Archbishop Foley's Thanksgiving Day Homily (Zenit 24/11/05)
Archbishop Foley: Cinema at the service of mankind (Vatican Information Service 23/11/05)
Prelate hopes for directors will explore spiritual potential of film (Catholic World News 23/11/05)
Cinema has potential to spiritually guide man to essential understanding of himself, says Archbishop Foley (Catholic News Agency 23/11/05)
Use technology to help the voiceless, prelate says (Catholic World News 18/11/05)
Archbishop Foley: Technology can help us serve poor, isolated peoples of world (Catholic News Agency 18/11/05)
Vatican Official Weighs In on "Digital Divide" (Zenit 19/11/05)
Holy See at U.N. Summit on the Information Society (Zenit 19/11/05)
Church Must Help Form Communicators, Says Archbishop (Zenit 9/11/05)

12 Dec 2005