Take the high road, Bishop Coyne tells Catholic communicators

IMAGE: CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review

By Carol Zimmermann

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — In today’s
age of cyberbullying and online vitriol, be sure to take the high road and
build people up rather than tear them down, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of
Burlington, Vermont, told Catholic communicators attending the Catholic Media

“What can I say to make
things better? What are the words that may impart grace to those who
hear?” the bishop, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications,
asked the group to consider June 2.

He said he knew the journalists
in the room were “acutely aware of the significant decline in the tenor of
public discourse” during the last few years, a fact that is readily apparent
in publications’ comment boxes and social media.

In such an environment, the
bishop urged communicators to lift up good examples of humanity, charity and
grace and if possible, “engage in some form of active ministry to others:
feeding, housing, counseling, visiting or praying.”

“We have to be even more
careful to be reflective rather than reactive,” he added saying there is
already enough anger and coarseness out there. “Let’s just not add to

Bishop Coyne also noted that the
church is not immune from such negative discourse, saying: “one of the
most destructive activities in the church today is the internecine fighting
among people and groups who claim to be Catholic.”

Echoing this message, he quoted Basilian
Father Thomas Rosica, who delivered the keynote address May 11 at the Brooklyn
Diocese’s observance of World Communications Day and said: “The character
assassination on the internet by those claiming to be Catholic and Christian
has turned it into a graveyard of corpses strewn all around.”

Father Rosica, CEO of Canada’s
Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, also described Catholic online
conversations as sometimes “more a culture of death than a culture of
life,” the bishop said.

Instead of responding in kind,
Bishop Coyne urged the journalists and communication leaders to follow the
example of St. Therese or Lisieux who saw every task as a chance to make the
love of God more concrete.

With this in mind, he said every
news story, video, blog post, tweet, email or response to an online comment can
“become an opportunity to manifest God’s love.”

He also reminded the group that
the world they are writing in is constantly changing and is shifting to one
that is largely non-religious and secular.

“We are now
missionaries,” he said, which should influence writing, podcasts, videos
and blog posts because these forms of communication might be bringing people
the Gospel message for the first time.

“And here is something more
to consider,” he said. “One cannot give what one does not have.”
In order to help others know Jesus, he said, “We must first know him

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article