Giving a “face” to problems, reporting stories, being honest in telling the truth, promoting relationships at a time of divisions and polarizations. These are some of the distinctive features that should characterise the information of Catholic Churches in Europe, according to participants in the meeting promoted by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) that brought together in Rome the directors of European Catholic news agencies. The Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) is hosting the meeting attended by editors-in-chief or officers of the following news agencies: SIR (per l’Italia, www.agensir.it); IKA (Croatia, www.ika.hr); KAI (Poland, kair.ekai.pl); Ktabkbih (Bosnia-Herzegovina, www.ktabkbih.net); Kathpress (Austria, www.kathpress.at). The Catholic media landscape includes news portals of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, (kath.ch, cath.ch and catt.ch), Belgium (catho.bel), Belarus (catholic.by) and Albania (www.albkatolik.al). The session devoted to news agencies was held prior to the meeting of spokespersons under the theme “Communicating Christ in a polarized world.” Today, said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, CCEE President, “culture that tends to separate, in the name of absolute autonomy, prevails.” So it is necessary “to convey to public opinion the true quality of life, which is not self-sufficiency or efficiency, but living out relationships.” On the sidelines of the meeting, SIR interviewed Monsignor Nuno Brás, bishop responsible of the Social Communications sections of the CCEE Evangelization and Culture Commission.
Mons. Brás, what impressed you the most in the experiences shared by Catholic media officers today?
First of all the existence of Catholic news agencies or platforms in every Country and in every bishops’ Conference, with news reports on the life of the Church. I think it’s an unprecedented reality in the European media landscape, characterized by a strong sense of belonging while being extremely diversified and branched out. We see an increasing need for greater cooperation among the various news agencies, which will have to face the problem of the different languages and the different approaches of the Churches in the field of information; just consider the Churches of Mediterranean countries and the Churches of Western and Eastern Europe; or the specific traits of Churches where Catholic or Christian communities are a minority and those where they represent the majority.
However, I think that despite this diversity, cooperation is important because we need to work together in synergy and Europe needs Christianity more than ever before.
What are the common challenges? And most of all, is there room for “Catholic” information in Europe?
It depends on the professionalism in reporting the news. If a news agency has professional journalists who carry out their work with professionalism, the news will be relayed. It should also be said that the attention drawn by news on the Catholic world is closely related to Church presence at national level. In other words, it depends on whether that presence is significant to the Country. However, if agencies are run professionally it will certainly advance the impact of the news item on the public opinion.
Conveying news that veritably reflects this term. That’s the problem. If a news report is interesting it will be relayed.
Catholic media outlets are often challenged by cases of scandals involving the Churches. What approach do you suggest in these cases?
First of all it should be said that these news items are very saddening for us. However, we must stick to the truth. And honesty is the leading criteria in every situation, in any case. These news items make us suffer but we must always say the truth.
In a polarized Europe, which form of communication does the Church propose?
I believe the prevailing approach is to look at people, this means that in every situation we must seek the brother who needs our help. Indeed, problems have political and economic implications, along with management difficulties. However, they always show us that there is a brother standing before us who needs our help, and this needs to be told. It’s our primary duty as communicators. I think that reporting the stories of our weak, vulnerable brothers and sisters is critical to a positive impact on the public opinion of every European country. Often it’s worth much more than philosophical reasoning.