Pope gets media's attention as he rebrands church, papacy, says priest

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert M. Longo

By Ed Wilkinson

N.Y. (CNS) — Pope Francis has rebranded the Catholic Church and the papacy,
and the media have taken notice.

was the message delivered by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who delivered the
keynote address May 11 at the Brooklyn Diocese’s observance of World Communications

by the DeSales Media Group, the event in downtown Brooklyn drew about 250

Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and the
English-language attache to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, was
presented with the Brooklyn Diocese’s St. Francis DeSales Distinguished
Communicator Award by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

to Pope Francis, when many people on the street were asked: ‘What is the
Catholic Church all about? What does the pope stand for?’ The response would
often be, ‘Catholics, well they are against abortion, gay marriage and birth
control. They are known for the sex abuse crisis that has terribly marred and
weakened their moral authority and credibility,'” said Father Rosica.

I dare say that the response is somewhat different. What do they say about us
now? What do they say about the pope? People are speaking about our leader who
is unafraid to confront the sins and evils that have marred us,” he

have a pope who is concerned about the environment, about mercy, compassion and
love, and a deep passion, care and concern for the poor and for displaced
peoples roaming the face of this earth,” he added. “Pope Francis has
won over a great part of the media.”

pontiff “has changed the image of the church so much that prestigious
graduate schools of business and management are now using him as a case study
in rebranding,” the priest added.

the pope has caused more people to take notice, that doesn’t mean that everyone
agrees or follows the message he preaches, Father Rosica said.

he explained that Pope Francis has opened up a dialogue with the world and the
Catholic media is a big part of showcasing the work of the Catholic Church.

referred to Francis’ message for World Communications Day to explain how church
media should go about its work.

primary task is to uphold the truth with love,” he said.

means that Catholic media should “listen” to, rather than merely “hear,”
as it engages in dialogue.

also means that church media should communicate with everyone, without

further means that “Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to
communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they
should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”

Rosica further added that “political and diplomatic language would do well
to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope.”

our way of communicating help to overcome the mind-set that neatly separates
sinners from the righteous,” he said. “We can and we must judge
situations of sin – such as violence, corruption and exploitation – but we may
not judge individuals, since only God can see into the depths of their hearts.”

Rosica said the work of the Catholic media is to build bridges that encourage
encounter and inclusion and to avoid misunderstandings that add to wounds and

urged a prudent use of some of the new social media.

character assassination on the Internet by those claiming to be Catholic and
Christian has turned it into a graveyard of corpses strewn all around,” he
said. “Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed,
nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are
very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or
pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs
and holy executioners! In reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry

pointed out that Catholic media will be held to accountability and
responsibility for creating communion and engaging in a dialogue that is fueled
by mercy and understanding.

church must shine with the light that lives within itself, it must go out and
encounter human beings who — even though they believe that they do not need to
hear a message of salvation — often find themselves afraid and wounded by
life,” he said.

light of Christ reflected in the church must not become the privilege of only a
few elect who float enclosed within a safe harbor or ghetto network of
communications for the elite, the clean, the perfect and the saved.”

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is editor of The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

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