is gratifying to see that the Australian Bishop’s Pastoral Letter, “Go
Tell Everyone” is released at this time. It’s not always easy
for a church steeped in centuries of tradition to adapt to a modern communication’s
culture. While listening to a breakfast radio crew I was reminded of this
difficulty when one of the presenters introduced his guest as ‘a good
little Christian.’ In fact the guest was an overseas aid worker employed
by a church organization. The radio presenter’s derisory remark made me
reflect on the significance of language and how the word ‘Christian’
had in some quarters, in this instance a radio station with a demographic
audience of 15 to 25 year olds, become associated with conservative fundamentalism.
The Bishop’s Pastoral acknowledges
the role of the media as an indispensable cultural web of communication,
that Christianity has always been mediated and its message, and the
image and message of the church, is linked to the nature of its mediation.
It recognises the incarnation as an ongoing process of evangelisation
and therefore the necessity of finding ways and means of spreading the
Word in every age.
The Pastoral understands that the
church IS communication and therefore the church media work is
inextricably linked with its other evangelisation efforts.
The Bishops have demonstrated that
they understand that communication planning recognizes and understands
the nature of the church as communication and genuinely takes its cues
from Jesus and New Testament imagery and symbolism as interpreted for
our culture and times.
The release of “Go Tell Everyone”
is both a sign to the Australian church to move forward with evangelical
zeal and an awareness of a certain crisis of communication. Within the Christian
tradition these two positions are theological secure as we are a people
of the cross but also of resurrection.
There is enough flexibility within
the Pastoral to cope with the constancy of cultural change, particularly
technological change in media, telecommunications, Internet and the
variety of new media forms that seem to sporn almost daily.
The Pastoral is wide-ranging in its
appreciation that communications is much more than technical facilities.
While these are vital, at the heart of communications are people, resources
and funds, developed for specific purposes. It calls for a missional
engagement with modern culture, for mission is constitutive of the Church.
The character of the Pastoral encourages
us to recover an experience with the God who transcends culture but
also meets us in our culture.
Although many would claim that modern
culture is highly critical of religion and increasingly secular in its
assumptions it cannot be denied that the future of evangelisation in
modern culture is intimately connected with the shape of how we communicate
to the world.
“Go Tell Everyone”, with
its outward mission consciousness, is a dialogue document seeking to
help Catholic Communicators to communicate the love of God in and with
the world. It offers a strong vision that gives direction, forward momentum,
and an opportunity to create an innovative process for addressing the
communication’s needs of an evangelizing Church.
L’association catholique mondiale pour la communication.
The World Catholic Association for Communication.
La asociacion catolica mundial para la comunicacion.