Pastoral Letter - A Vision for Evangelisation In a Modern Culture

It 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. 

Peter Thomas
Vice President
L’association catholique mondiale pour la communication.
The World Catholic Association for Communication.
La asociacion catolica mundial para la comunicacion.

Click here to download the Australian Bishops' Pastoral Letter 'Go Tell Everyone' (PDF 534k)


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