By one’s high professional conscience, the Christian journalist is required to offer a new witness in communications…
Pope Francis stressed this to a delegation of the Belgian Christian Weekly “Tertio” today, Sept. 18, 2020, in the Vatican, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary.
Encouraging the journalists to be heralds of hope, he also urged them to pursue “a positive view of people and events, rejecting prejudices.”
In December of 2016, the Holy Father granted an interview on the subject of Synodality, to this Dutch-speaking weekly, which this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary. “A Christian journalist is invited to bring a new witness in the world of communication without veiling the truth or manipulating the information,” he said during this morning’s audience.
The Pontiff applauded ”the existence of Christian media specialized in quality information on the life of the Church in the world, and contributing to a formation of consciences.” Pope Francis also invited the journalists “to make the voice of the Church heard and that of Christian intellectuals in a media scenario that is ever more secularized, in order to enrich with constructive reflections.”
The name “Tertio” refers to John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Tertio Milllennio Ineunte,” in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience.
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The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brothers and Sisters, welcome!
I’m happy to meet with you, collaborators of the Christian weekly “Tertio,” which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. I wish you a profitable pilgrimage to Rome, and I congratulate you for all that you do in the field of information and communication. I thank Monsignor Smet and Mister Van Lierde for their words of introduction.
In the society in which we live, information is an integral part of our everyday. When it is of quality, it enables us to understand better the problems and challenges that the world is called address, and it inspires individual, family and social behaviour. Very important, in particular, is the presence in the media of Christians specialized in quality information on the life of the Church in the world, capable of contributing to a formation of consciences.
Moreover, the very name of your weekly, “Tertio,” makes reference to Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, <written> in view of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, to prepare hearts to receive Christ and His liberating message. Therefore, such reference is not only a call to hope but aims also to have the voice of the Church heard and that of Christian intellectuals in an ever more secularized media scenario, in order to enrich it with constructive reflections. By seeking a positive view of people and events <and> rejecting prejudices, an attempt is made to foster a culture of encounter through which it’s possible to see the reality with a confident look.
Notable also is the contribution of the Christian media to have a new lifestyle grow in Christian communities, free from every form of preconception and exclusion. In fact, we know, “gossip closes the heart to the community, it closes the unity of the Church. The great gossiper is the devil, who is always saying awful things about others, because he is a liar who seeks to disunite the Church, to alienate brothers and not build community” (Angelus, September 6, 2020).
Communication is an important mission for the Church. Christians committed in this realm are called to implement concretely the Lord’s invitation to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel (cf. Mark 16:15). By his high professional conscience, the Christian journalist is required to offer a new witness in the world of communication without concealing the truth or manipulating the information. In fact, “in the confusion of voices and messages that surround us, we are in need of a human narration, which speaks to us of ourselves and of the beauty that dwells in us. A narration which is able to look at the world and events with tenderness; which talks of our being part of a living fabric, which reveals the intertwining o f the threads with which we are connected to one another” (Message for the 54th Week of Social Communications, January 24, 2020). You are protagonists of this “narration.”,
The Christian professional of information must be, therefore, a bearer of hope and of confidence in the future, because, only when the future is welcomed as a positive and possible reality, can the present also become liveable. These reflections can also help us, especially today, to nourish hope in the situation of pandemic that the world is going through. You are sowers of this hope in a better tomorrow. In the context of this crisis, it’s important that the means of social communication contribute, so that people do not become ill from loneliness and can receive a word of comfort.
Dear friends, I renew my encouragement for your commitment and I thank God for your witness in the course of these twenty years, which have enabled your Weekly to earn a good reputation. As Saint John Paul II stressed “”the Church looks at you, who operate in the field of culture and communication, with confidence and anticipation, because [ . . . ] you are called to read and interpret the present time and to identify the ways for a communication of the Gospel in keeping with the languages and sensibility of contemporary man” (Address to the Participants in the Congress for Operators of Communication and Culture Promoted by CEI, November 9, 2020).
I entrust to the Holy Virgin your work at the service of encounter between peoples and societies. May She turn her gaze to each one of you and help you to be faithful disciples of her Son in your profession. I bless you all, collaborators of “Tertio,” family members as well readers of the newspaper. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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By Ryan Christopher J. Sorote, CBCP News
From atop of a makeshift platform on Sunday, Father Kim Margallo surveyed his parishioners, gathered in about 25 cars below in a church parking lot.
The priest was holding Mass in the drive-in for Catholics who have been unable to attend the traditional church service because of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the increasing cases of Covid-19 in Eastern Visayas, he said people are afraid to go to Mass for fear of contracting the virus.
As of Monday, the Health Department reported 67 new cases of Covid-19 in the region, bringing the total number of cases to 3,826, with 695 active cases.
“I think it was the right time, with the Covid-19 cases rocketing in our (Tacloban) city, people are afraid to go out,” said Fr. Margallo of St. Josemaria Escriva Mission Station.
He said the idea came a few weeks after the pandemic broke out to give faithful the chance to attend Mass from the safety of their cars.
Archbishop John Du of Palo has earlier encouraged priests to “initiate creative evangelization and pastoral ministering in our parishes” amid the health crisis.
“I made the initiative to let the people attend the mass in such a way so they can still continue to attend the Holy Eucharist as a family inside their cars,” Fr. Margallo said.
He stressed that it is part of the roles of the Church to innovate new ways to bring the sacraments to people, yet following the norms and not violating restrictions.
“During the communion, the attendees of the Mass stay inside the car. They will just roll down their window and a lay minister will go to them to distribute the communion,” he said.
The priest added that the drive-in Mass will continue for the meantime but clarified that the proper place of worship is in the church.
“Even if we have our mass online streamed there is no best substitute to attend a celebration of the Eucharist physically,” Fr. Margallo added.
In May, the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, also in Tacloban City, started a “parish mobile confessional” to bring the sacraments to the people, especially the elderly and the sick.
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A surge in violence against Nigerian Christians has left the faithful paralyzed by fear and unable to go about their normal lives, according to a leading priest.
Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Sam Ebute of Kangoro said Christians were constantly worried about the next spate of attacks.
He said: “For the past seven weeks, we have been burying our parishioners with no end in sight.
“These last attacks have left us all in fear and especially the fear of the unknown because we do not know when the next round of attacks will happen and what will trigger it.
“We cannot worship in peace. We have no confidence in the safety of our homes.”
He added: “Our movements are limited, our faithful cannot freely go about their activities.
“It is farming season now, but they dare not go to their farms for fear of being attacked there.
“They have left their crops to perish. It is like we have been left to perish because of our faith.”
In seven months 178 people were killed in Kaduna State, reports suggest mainly by militant Fulani herders, and Father Ebute was critical of the government’s refusal to provide protection.
He said: “What makes all of this even more difficult is the fact that the government doesn’t take decisive measures to curb the menace. This is the most devastating and frustrating thing to fathom.”
Father Ebute, the Director of Vocations for the Society of African Missions, buried 21 of his parishioners after bandits attacked Kukum Daji village.
He said: “The community had a gathering of youths when they suddenly heard gunshots and noises of men screaming…
“In less than two hours, the bandits left 17 youths dead, mostly girls, while four died either on their way to the hospital or at the hospital, making it a total number of 21.”
He added: “For four years since I became a priest in 2016, I have been burying my parishioners.”
Father Ebute’s comments echoed those made by the bishops of Kaduna Province, in a statement sent to ACN, who warned that Nigeria has become engulfed by violence.
They said: “Dark clouds of violence have enveloped our land. Our country is in the firm grip of the grim reaper. In the last few years, the purveyors of this violence have taken over the land and placed our security forces on the defensive…
“In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities…
“Thousands of lives have been lost to these bandits who have operated with relentless abandon.”
They added: “The ravages of Boko Haram, the herdsmen, kidnappers and the bandits have turned everyone into a victim.”
Isabel Sanchez, the woman who occupies the most important position in the Opus Dei’s administration, recently published and presented her first book ”Compass Women in a Forest of Challenges (Planeta-Espasa), the reason for Zenit’s exclusive conversation with her.
Since 2010, Isabel Sanchez Serrano (Murcia, Spain, 1969) directs the Opus Dei’s Central Consultancy, an entity made up of women who advise the Prelate on the institution’s government. She has a Licentiate in Law, lives in Rome since 1992, and works for the over 50,000 women in 70 countries that are part of the institution.
As a fruit of her trajectory and her post in the Work, she has been able to visit over 50 countries. She has known the work of many women, whom she calls “compass women,” namely, “those who become a point of reference for others, point out the North, trace the way and accompany to the goal.”
In her book she talks about 75 experiences of women that work in the five Continents, heading social projects to improve their surroundings. In addition, the book addresses subjects such as work, leadership, women’s role, care of people, peace, solidarity, and the planet’s sustainability.
To Make Compatible the Work of Writer
In the interview granted to Zenit, the Opus Dei’s principal secretary says that the proposal to write this book arose on the part of the publisher, after an interview on the occasion of the Beatification of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, a scientist, and member of the Work.
Sanchez acknowledges that “although it required effort,” to make the book compatible with her work in this institution of the Church, she “was favored by several factors. In the first place, the support I received from the Prelate of the Opus Dei, Fernando Ocariz, and from my work team,” which made it easier from the first moment to dedicate different times of the week to the writing and limit my travel agenda.”
The Power of Forgiveness
Despite the fact she finds a choice difficult, of the 80 “inspiring” women that appear in the book, she says the one that made the greatest impact on her was an Argentine woman, a terminal patient, who told the doctor looking after her that she could leave in peace because she was able to forgive her husband, who reappeared after abandoning her many years before, leaving her alone with several small children.”
“This debate between resentment and forgiveness certainly questioned me because we all go through it at some point in our existence.” Therefore, “she was a reference for me, a clear example of a “compass woman,” who can change her fate and that of her dear ones in her kitchen,” highlights the writer.
Integrating and Enriching Feminism
In regard to the subject of women in present-day society, Sanchez is in favor of an integrating feminism, which includes men as allies. “I want to move away from a feminism of opposition, which reaffirms woman by crushing man. A glance at today’s world reveals that antagonisms will not be able to lead us to social balance or create humanizing surroundings.”
Personally, that dialectic of confrontation worries me, not only between man and woman but also between races, social classes, or ideological options. I advocate the creation of collaborative areas, in which the look of one enriches others, in which men and women contribute to every realm of life.”
So, “we must work elbow to elbow to build a new model of society, which answers the anxieties that the future poses.”
We, women, “have passed several decades opening for ourselves a way in work environments and public areas, which historically had an exclusively male presence” and, “in this effort, there have been men who have collaborated because they have understood that women’s contribution was necessary to have a complete vision of reality,” she clarifies.
A Sorority that Reaches Out
Given the confrontation that happens sometimes between women themselves. Especially in realms such as work, she points out that that in the past “injustices and errors have also been committed, such as, for example, to think that the winning of these areas required the assumption of masculine roles by women or of regarding other colleagues as potential rivals, instead of as allies.”
Nevertheless, we “women have much to contribute, as we carry with us a centuries-old patrimony in the care and primacy of the person, but we can also fall into the trap of revenge or envy, which undermines our self-esteem. Many women are arriving at the summit of their profession in numerous ambits.”
And she stresses that sorority passes through reaching out to the next one to go up. I have had the opportunity to talk with many women of very varied latitudes, and I see as an inherent condition of ours to be integrators, innovators, and stimulators of others.”
Regarding her opinion on the principal achievements that should be obtained for women today, she says that perhaps, the first of them would be “to understand that maternity isn’t a subject of women; one must be convinced that the care and education of children concern everyone,” as, from this understanding of maternity and paternity, “the organization of work would have to be rethought to facilitate human relations, and reconcile family and work.”
“A step would be to rationalize schedules or give social recognition to professions related to care. Then there are other issues in which there is yet a long way to go, such as the salary gap or glass ceilings,” she adds.
Women in the Church
In her book, Isabel Sanchez also addresses the question of women’s role in the Church defending that, at the same time, it is necessary to point out the jobs and functions that the laity can do in her, being aware, in this connection, of the work that the laity can do in ordinary life.
Therefore, she says that she would like to see “many laypeople — ordinary Christians, at street level, men and women exercising a leadership role in the life of the Church.”
To achieve it, she thinks “a process of de-clericalization “ is necessary, “a fine filtering work to discover what jobs have been attributed –when it might not be so.”
And she referred to “street leadership,” which includes “not so much assuming posts or reducing women’s contribution in carrying out functions in the structure of the Church, as it does embracing our vital commitment with today’s world, and taking to contemporary society — each one from the place he/she occupies — Christ’s message and the values of the Gospel — a leadership that will be visible “if each baptized person assumes this commitment.”
Solidarity as Solution to the Pandemic
Another subject that Isabel Sanchez addresses in her book is solidarity. Her proposals are linked to the Pope’s recent words, in which he states that the present pandemic “has highlighted our interdependence: we are all connected, with one another, both in the good as well as the evil” (Pope Francis, General Audience, September 2, 2020).
In his line, the Opus Dei’s Principal Secretary says, in fact, that “the pandemic has manifested how much we have yet to advance as society in the care of our elderly and of the most vulnerable, in the acquisition of resources to protect them.”
“I agree fully with Pope Francis that this health crisis has made us see that today’s world, with these global challenges, require a mutual cooperation based on friendship as social value. We must go arm in arm with others.”
Moreover, in the chapter dedicated to solidarity, ”as I understand it, the most valuable thing we have is the capacity to discover the needs of others, to make them our own and to try to remedy them.”
“Humanize the Environment”
Asked about the tendency to trivialize the term “solidarity” as mere attractive content for the social networks, she clarifies that “solidarity is much more than a photo on Instagram; it’s to embody in one’s life the values of the Gospel, to empathize with our contemporaries.”
Moreover, in face of the discouragement that the fact can cause, in the present context, that many challenges exist to address in this field, she points out that “it’s true that our world is experiencing lacerating inequalities and that the challenges are titanic, however, at the same time it’s not necessary to go very far or carry out great feats to try to give back to them their original beauty: an attentive ear, a helping hand, a smile or a favor done without expecting a return can humanize a hostile or indifferent environment, and change lives.” And “stories are narrated in the book that reflect this.”
Immersed fully in the “Time of Creation,” annual ecumenical celebration of prayer and action for our common home, and given that in “Compass Women “ there is talk of ecological sustainability, Sanchez states in this connection that in the Work “encouraged above all is that each person that displays his/her creativity must think of ways of embracing the commitment we all have with our planet, as a work that issued from the hands of the Creator.”
She also highlights that, in the chapter on this subject, “there is talk of the link with the surroundings, established by the University of Piura, whose campus went from being an inhospitable desert to a notable natural reserve.”
Or Lucia’s story, “who works in the realm of technological innovation and was dedicated to start-up investments. Her reading of Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, led her to create her own consultancy firm on innovation and sustainability, placing the person at the center.”
Christians as “Ecological Agents”
In “Compass Women,” the author defines a Christian as an “ecological agent of the religious dimension,” who can destroy contaminated ideas about God.
In asking her how she believes Catholics can fight against the complexity and also the fear of relating to those that think differently, she said that the Holy Father already “shared with us his desire in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, when he invited the Christian faithful to a new evangelizing stage marked by joy.”
In it, Pope Francis “speaks of the joy of the Gospel, which fills the heart and life of those that encounter Jesus. Through this testimony of joy of plenitude and of meaning, we, Christians of today, will be able to cancel the suspicions that still weigh on God as a tyrant, as men’s party pooper, as the constant accuser, as the robber of meaty and vital happiness.”
And she points out that we Catholics, “have before us today an exciting mission: to present to today’s world the merciful face of the Father. How? Essentially with our witness of faith, among our equals, in our family and work relations or those of friendship.”
Write to Open Dialogues
Finally, in regard to the possibility of writing other books, Isabel Sanchez says that she has enjoyed “enormously” writing her first work, “although a moment awaits me of quite a bit of office work when I return to Rome,” and that the writing of a second part will depend on the readers and the book’s reception.
She also says that when “I thought of the chapters’ structure, I did so thinking of transversal challenges that affect all of us. I did it with the hope that the book would serve to open dialogues, to invite to conversation among friends on important topics, even if one has different positions or postures, <which are> seemingly contradictory.”
As interesting readings, “I am attracted by universal topics because it’s from them that we will be able to build a society of inclusive and transcendental dialogue.”
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