The issue of communication is at the heart and the core of the Church. The Church has been sent. It has been sent into the world to tell the world of the good news of Jesus Christ, the joyful news of God’s love for the human family and of that family’s redemption by the life of Jesus Christ. Communication is at the very essence of the Church’s mission. How is it doing across the world? How is it doing in the Vatican and how is it doing in the United States?
Regretfully, we haven’t had a nationally famous episcopal speaker since the wonderful Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. He was outstanding and his television appearance captivated the entire country, not just the Catholics. Since then no one. The Vatican has several times admitted its failure in public communication and has since hired an executive from Fox News. If that is progress or not remains to be seen.
The Church is trying and I was very happy to see that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is sponsoring three media seminars during the coming year aimed specifically at bishops to help them with encountering the media and crisis communications.
Traditionally, there were two very important groups of people who will do almost anything to avoid being in front of a camera in a controversial situation and that is the leaders from the business community and from the churches. Let’s hope that these seminars will give bishops the technical skills and the confidence in the ability to articulate effectively in order that they might carry Christ’s word forward more effectively in their individual dioceses or even on the national level.
Each of these seminars, scheduled for Houston, Savannah and Buffalo, are to run for an entire day! The bishops will have to be fast learners. Before attending one or another or all three of these seminars, each bishop, or Church representative, should concentrate on the all-important underpinning of good media communication. TELL THE TRUTH!