Episcopates Looking to Strengthen Media Bonds

Europeans Seeking More Collaboration Among Web Sites

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SANKT GALLEN, Switzerland, JULY 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Media personnel for European bishops' conferences say there is a need for closer collaboration among episcopates' Web sites as well as other Catholic sites.



Member episcopates of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) announced that decision after their June 24-27 meeting in Athens, Greece.

The meeting, held at the invitation of the Catholic archdiocese, analyzed the phenomenon of the Internet and studied how to reinforce the network of European collaboration between media offices.

Conferees concluded that Internet is giving the Church new possibilities to reach surfers and to propose courses of catechesis, information on the life of the Church, and services and personal support.

Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that Internet offers the Church useful space for evangelization, since it makes it possible to reach all cultures and ages at once. He also said this new channel of communication pushes the Church to examine its own language, according a CCEE press statement.

Among the proposals that resulted from the debate and reflection of spokesmen and media officers of the 22 CCEE episcopates, was one to organize formation seminars for journalists -- Catholic and non-Catholic -- and to support the press offices of the episcopal conferences of Eastern Europe.

Also planned is a meeting between the Webmasters of the sites of the episcopal conferences and greater exchanges of material and documents.

Concerned that evil "makes more impact than good," the participants recognized that the "communications engine" is driven by economic criteria.

"Furthermore, the multiplication of sources of information heightens competition" for audiences and leads to "scandals [and] exaggerations … to the detriment of the defenseless, such as minors," the CCEE statement said.

Given this situation, Claudio Giuliodori, director of the Italian National Social Communications Office, proposed the recounting of "testimonies and life experiences … to allow the positive face of the Church and of society to emerge; to counteract the media's aggressiveness not just by reaction but by proposing initiatives; and to develop personal relationships with workers in the media."

In this context, "above all it is the family that must be protected," the CCEE participants concluded. They noted that parents above all "have responsibility for the education of their children in use of the mass media."

Participants also urged that lawmakers "consider the family as a social and public subject with rights and specific duties, and not just as a group of individuals."

In some countries the Church is fostering special initiatives for the protection of the family, such as the Week for Life in Germany, held last April; Mass Media Awareness projects involving parents in Maltese schools; and the Listening 2004 Project in England and Wales.