The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

How the church should communicate

This is a terrific primer on church communications that every parish, and every diocese (and every papacy) should study, courtesy Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno, from Brazil.

John Allen has the scoop:

1. Overcome the idea that the means of communications are themselves communication. In other words, building TV networks, radio stations, and web sites is all well and good, but if you don’t have something compelling to say, building new and better ways to say it won’t accomplish much.

2. Stop thinking that modern means of communication are “secular.” (Damasceno actually used the term “profane,” but he meant it in the literal sense of being outside the temple.) In other words, TV, the Internet, etc., are not somehow alien to the church. Instead, Damasceno said, quoting the Colombian journalist, they are neutral, and everything depends on how they’re used.

3. Understand that communications and preaching are not the same thing. Preaching is one form of communication, but there also has to be space for providing basic information and responding to questions in a fashion distinct from catechesis or moral exhortation.

4. Understand that every pastoral act is a form of communication. The church is always communicating something about itself to the outside world, even at the level of how people are treated when they have contact with the church.

5. Accept that effective communication happens between equals. Just as Christ emptied himself to become human, Damasceno said, the church must not presume an attitude of superiority when it’s trying to communicate with the world.

6. Realize that communications is not the same thing as PR. Ultimately, Damasceno said, the point is not just to project a better image of the church, but rather to share something of Christian life and to help people see their lives and the world from within a Christian frame of reference.

Addressing an audience largely composed of people who handle communications for dioceses, religious orders, and other Catholic groups, Damasceno said what the church needs is an approach that’s “clear, informative, consistent and ethical.”

“We must not simply speak in the name of the Lord,” Damasceno said. “We must also act like the Lord.”

There’s more at the link.

Comments read comments(8)
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steve p

posted September 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Wow. Really thoughtful and well-articulated. And since most parishes and such don't have their own "spokespeople" and "communications directors", this guide should be shared with all who wear the public face of the Church.

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posted September 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I had seen that – it is great.

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posted September 11, 2009 at 10:39 am

EWTN is a successful model of Catholic Broadcast. Still, I think we need a model that goes beyond to the culture at large beyond our own Catholic niche. We still need the Catholic version of HBO, CNN, Disney Channel, a network that can produce programs not necessarily religious, but that are produced with a Christian ethic and spirit.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

Rudy…It's here. Praise God. Dcn. G.

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posted September 11, 2009 at 10:52 am

Comment on two points: 1. I disagree with the first point. Fellow Catholic and media guru Marshall McLuhan posited that "the media IS the message". I agree with this. Look at the Net TV bus ad further down the page. That media IS the message. 2. I agree with Allen's second point that the media is neutral. In Toronto our largest daily the "Star" is left leaning. However during World Youth Day here the paper was full of factual reporting including the dissent protests. Pope John Paul II was shown a copy of the Star and asked if it was a Catholic newspaper? If the Toronto Star could appear to the Pope as a Catholic newspaper, I'm all behind the idea of a neutral media.

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posted September 11, 2009 at 10:55 am

Wow, I am chcking it out and it looks good. I did not know about it. Hopefully it will be available in Cable TV. Great work.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

Rudy … It's where I work. I'm the News Director and creator of the first (and only) daily Catholic news show, "Currents." DGK

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posted September 11, 2009 at 11:50 am

Deacon Greg, don't you mean "…first (30 MINUTE) daily Catholic new show…" ;)

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