Pioneer in Church Communication Dies at 79

Professor Alfonso Nieto Believed 'Church Has the Best Message'

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ROME, FEB. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A man who believed in the Church's message and the duty of journalists to present that message died Thursday at 79.

Professor Alfonso Nieto passed away at the University Hospital of Navarre, Spain.

He was a promoter of the first -- and to this date, only -- school of institutional communications in the Catholic Church, at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Nieto was also the first president of the international news agency, Rome Reports. Javier Martínez-Brocal, the director of that agency, remembered him as someone who "said we shouldn't settle. He always said, the Church has the best message. As journalists, he told us, we had the responsibility of offering that message with quality, to the public."

Nieto was inspired by an aspiration held by St. Josemaría Escrivá: the university formation of journalists.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, spokesman for John Paul II as well as for Benedict XVI during the first years of his pontificate, said of Nieto: "Professor Nieto was one of the most effective promoters of accreditation for professional journalism in the university field. In the 60s his intuition led him to become a pioneer in promoting journalism schools across Europe. A few years later, ahead of his time, he promoted the professional, university formation of those who accept and fulfill communication responsibilities within Church institutions. Of course, his ideas were not only wishful thinking; in these two areas, he knew how to convert them into concrete results."

A colleague at the Holy Cross, Juan Manuel Mora, remembers: "Alfonso had a creative intelligence, a passion for communication, and love for the Church. It is these qualities that gave rise to the school."