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Sunday 12 May 2013

Communications Sunday Letter from Archbishop Tartaglia


My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

On this Communications Sunday I hardly need to draw your attention to
the importance of communications in the life of the Church ­   recent
months have seen the media carrying the best and the worst of news for
us as Catholics. We have been dismayed, hurt and embarrassed by
headlines and news bulletins bringing shameful revelations about the
Church at the highest levels. We have witnessed the power of the media,
and sometimes felt under siege from its harsh glare.

Yet the media have also allowed us to participate in and experience the
powerful and emotional scenes of the departure of our beloved Pope
Emeritus Benedict XVI from Rome and the election and first words and
gestures of his wonderful and inspiring successor, our new Holy Father,
Francis.

This year ¹s Communications Sunday Message invites us to open our eyes
and minds to the new media and all it offers beyond newspapers and
television news bulletins. It is now possible to follow the Pope ¹s
general audiences and Masses live on our smartphones   or computer
screens; those who have signed up have privileged access to the Holy
Father ¹s thoughts and words through direct messages on Twitter and
Facebook, and here in Scotland many parishes and dioceses are
discovering the power of social media in bringing the beauty and
fascination of the Gospel message directly into our lives.

In his final Communications Sunday message as Pope, Benedict XVI wrote,
in words which parents and teachers will readily endorse: ³Believers
are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in
the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people ...
The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but
is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the
young. ²

Pope Francis has given us a powerful lead in embracing these new
opportunities, by using Twitter to send out to many millions of people
round the world his simple but profound messages of hope. Typical is the
following: ³Accept the risen Jesus into your life. Even if you have
been far away, take a small step towards him: He awaits you with open
arms. ²  

A big message delivered in a small package!

In many of our Dioceses the same social media are already being used to
great effect to reach out, to inform and to engage with people, who are
often far from the Church door, but reachable through a Facebook posting
or a Twitter message. Of course these tools are but the first step to
evangelisation, but they can open hearts and minds previously closed to
us.

On this Communications Sunday I ask of you three things:

Firstly I ask for your prayers. All of us who are called to carry the
Christian message in public life and through the media need your prayers
to get it right! We need your prayers to give us courage! We need your
prayers that our words may bear fruit!

Secondly I ask you to engage. Avail yourselves of the new aids to
living the Catholic life of prayer, charity and solidarity offered by
the new media - websites, social media streams and Catholic TV, not
forgetting the special role and importance of the traditional Catholic
paper.

Thirdly I ask you to support the Church in her efforts to make her
voice heard in the noisy world of modern communications. Recent events
have shown how stretched our resources are, and how dependant we are on
the energy and expertise of a tiny number of media professionals whose
work for the Church has been more necessary than ever. If we are to
engage properly in public life we need to better resource our means of
communicating the Church ¹s message.

Our lives, for good or ill, are shaped by the media, both traditional
and digital. The Church must take up the challenge to be present, to be
coherent and to be convincing in the media and we can only do that with
your help.

Yours devotedly in Christ

+Philip Tartaglia
Archbishop of Glasgow
President, Communications Commission of the Bishops ¹ Conference of
Scotland

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