Bishops vow to take up media challenge

The Catholic Church in Australia needs to engage with wider society better and be more open to the media, Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey said yesterday.

The Age reports that in an unprecedented pastoral letter from the country's Bishops, Archbishop Hickey said the church had to enter dialogue, be open to questions and ready to comment.

Archbishop Hickey heads the Bishops' Committee for the Media, which yesterday launched Go Tell Everyone: A pastoral letter on the Church and the Media.

"It's a new realisation of the need to engage with the world," he said. "We've communicated through priests, our schools, hospitals and social welfare. But now we need to communicate through the world's media, believing we have something important to say."

The pastoral letter says Australians spent an average of 51 hours a week consuming media, such as television and the internet.

"The Catholic Church must be part of this marketplace of ideas and regally accept opportunities to be quoted, seen or heard upon matters of consequence," the letter said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the bishops have used the letter to present both possibilities and responsibilities for the church and calls for Catholics to be "critical users".

Its article focuses on comments from Vatican correspondent for the US National Catholic Reporter and CNN, John L. Allen, who has been in Australia as the Committee's guest. Allen spoke at a luncheon for Catholic media at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney yesterday, and was part of a panel at the launch at the new Notre Dame University campus on Broadway, Sydney.

The Herald quotes Allen's suggestion that the Church can profit from the huge public interest in the novel the De Vinci Code, rather than bemoan its factual errors.

Time to talk, say bishops (The Age 17/2/06)
Church's job: never mind errors, use the code (Sydney Morning Herald 17/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Go Tell Everyone: A pastoral letter on the Church and the Media (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Bishops' Committee for the Media

Bishops' Pastoral Letter on media set for launch today (CathNews 16/2/06)
Vatican correspondent John Allen Jr to visit Sydney (CathNews 2/2/06)
Vatican media archbishop heading to Sydney (CathNews 12/1/06)
Church to ramp up use of media (CathNews 12/12/05)

Vatican Radio: New ways to serve the Church (Vatican Information Service 16/2/06)
Peter Thomas: Pastoral Letter - A Vision for Evangelisation In a Modern Culture (Signis Pacific 17/2/06)
Vatican Radio turns 75, Pope praises its service to the Gospel (Catholic News Agency 16/2/06)
Campaign protests at media stereotyping of young people (Independent Catholic News 16/2/06)

17 Feb 2006