Daily Archives:May 9th, 2018

The internet: an ecclesiological perspective

Internet cafe, Mega Qmart Edsa Cubao, Philippines, 13 Apr 2018.   Photo by Mike Taboy

We live in a period when it has become possible for people to communicate with one another instantly, no matter the distance. People can exchange ideas and experiences, thoughts and feelings, wherever they are.

They can engage in dialogue and conversation even if they live in different parts of the world. People can initiate, sustain, and deepen friendships even from a distance. They can even act together to further a cause and effect social and political transformation.

The internet has made all this possible through social networking platforms. Social communication is changing patterns of relationships and praxis in society and the world.

How does this affect the life and mission of the Church? What are the opportunities and possibilities that this technology presents?

A dominant ecclesiology promoted by the Second Vatican Council and the Second Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in the Philippines is ecclesial communion. The Church is communion in a state of mission. Ecclesial communion is based on Trinitarian communion — the indivisible and loving union of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The model of ecclesial communion is based on the Johannine image of the vine and the branches and the Pauline image of the One Body of Christ. It is, above all, based on the Lucan idealised portrait of the first Christian community that emerged after the Pentecost and recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

The Koinonia model is associated with the unity, fellowship, friendship, sharing and participation that characterised the relationship within each Christian community and between the Christian communities. Thus the early Church is understood primarily as a network of Christian communities, a communion of communions.

This is what Vatican II and post-conciliar ecclesiology tried to recapture. This ecclesial communion is to be experienced at various levels: in the home (the domestic church), in the neighbourhood in Basic Ecclesial Communities, the parish, diocese, regional and national levels, and at the universal levels.

The Church can therefore be regarded as a web of relations — a network of relationships.

For ecclesial communion to grow and develop, communication is necessary. Interpersonal, social and dialogical communication among the members of the Church can lead to authentic communion.

As early as 1971, the role of communication for fostering communion was recognised in the ecclesiastical document, Communio et Progressio, which states, “The unity and brotherhood of humanity are the chief aims of all communication and these find source and model in the central mystery of the eternal communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who live a single divine life.”

Communication among members is given priority to deepen ecclesial communion, “The Church looks for ways of multiplying and strengthening the bonds of union between her members. For this reason, communication and dialogue among Catholics are indispensable.”

Dialogue between lay faithful and their pastors is also an aspect of ecclesial communion: “The normal flow of life and the smooth functioning of government within the Church require a steady two-way flow of information between the ecclesial authorities at all levels and the faithful as individuals and as organised groups. This applies to the whole world.”

The document Aetatis Novae reaffirms the right of the lay faithful to dialogue and information within the Church through the use of the media of social communication as a concrete means of realising ecclesial communion.

“It is necessary to recall the importance of the fundamental right of dialogue and information within the Church … and to continue to seek effective means, including a responsible use of media of social communications, for realising and protecting this right,” it reads.

“This is a matter of maintaining and enhancing the Church’s credibility and effectiveness. But more fundamentally, it is one of the ways of realising, in a concrete manner, the Church’s character as communio, rooted in and mirroring the intimate communion of the Trinity,” it added.

The internet can, therefore, be a concrete means of communication that can enhance communion at various levels of the Church, especially at the diocesan, national, and universal levels. This was pointed out by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication in its document on The Church and Internet.

“It has a remarkable capacity to overcome distance and isolation, bringing people into contact with like-minded persons of good will who join in virtual communities of faith to encourage and support one another,” reads the document.

The internet can provide the technological means for realising the vision of the Church as communion. Through the internet, members of the Church can actively participate in the mission of new evangelisation and in social transformation that can bring about justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

The challenge for Church leaders and lay faithful is how to make use of the available social media technology and social networking to enhance ecclesial communion. This is what we have been trying to do in our efforts to promote the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities. Fr Amado Picardal CSrRucanews.com (used with permission)

–Fr Amado Picardal, CSsR, is known for his activism and advocacy for human rights. He is executive secretary of the Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

‘Peace journalism’ to help build a more peaceful world

Galtung

VATICAN CITY – Every year on the Sunday before Pentecost the Church marks World Communications Day to celebrate the achievements of the media and to focus of how communications can best be used to promote gospel values.

In the lead-up to the 52nd World Communications Day on 13 May 2018, Pope Francis released a message entitled “The Truth will set you free. Fake news and journalism for peace.”

But what is peace journalism?

Originally conceived some 60 years ago by the eminent peace scholar, Johan Galtung, peace journalism is a model and a source of practical options for journalists.

Galtung himself defined peace journalism as “when editors and reporters make choices – of what to report, and how to report it – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.”

Speaking to Vatican News’s Alessandro Gisotti, Galtung explained how he elaborated the concept of “peace journalism” and expressed his gratitude for Pope Francis’ attention and support.

Galtung explained that simply by studying and analyzing the way news was reported in Norwegian newspapers during the 1960s, “and this was when we were talking about Cuba and Congo” he realized it attained to four conclusions: the news had to be negative (it had to have something to do with war and violence); it had to be ‘actor oriented’ not structure  – there had to be someone to blame; it had to affect our countries (élite countries); and in particular it had affect important people in important countries. So, he explained, take any event and see if it meets one or all of these four criteria: at this point, it’s easy for it to become news.

Sixty years since Galtung elaborated the concept of “peace journalism” he spoke about what it means today and pointed out that in the meantime he has focused on the concept of peace and come to the conclusion that there is a distinction between “positive” peace and “negative” peace.

“Peace journalism is split into two: ‘negative’ peace journalism, which tries to find solutions to conflicts in order to reduce violence; and ‘positive’ peace journalism, which wants to explore the possibility of more positive cooperation. In other words, the first focuses on the negative aspect and the second on the positive aspect” he said.

Pope Francis dedicated his Message for World Communications Day 2018 to “peace journalism” and Galtung expressed his gratitude for this.

He said he believes that Pope Francis is one of the greatest positive figures of our time and “obviously I am deeply struck by his stance on a concept such as “peace journalism” and find his support a great boost.

Commenting on how Pope Francis, in his message, affirms that “peace is the true news”, Galtung answers the question “Why is it so difficult for the media to inform about peace? Why does it appear only to be interested only in war?”

According to Galtung this is “Because they don’t know how to write about it, they don’t even know how to conceptualize peace!”

He noted there was a remarkable case in Denmark  when suddenly, people started talking about ‘reconciliation’, about reconciliation with regard to important events that had taken place in Denmark in the past and the journalists didn’t write about it because they did not even understand it!

He also expressed his opinion that women journalists are generally more attentive and more capable of putting “peace journalism” into practice than their male colleagues.

Galtung concluded stressing that the culture of “Peace Journalism” has its roots in the education and training of journalists, and in not taking for granted the guidelines set by some of the major schools of journalism in the world today, in order to break away from a negative model and introduce the concept of “Peace Journalism.” – Vatican News, 8 May 2018

New statute of laity, family and life dicastery published

A family

VATICAN CITY – The new Statute for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life was published by the Vatican on 8 May 2018.

The new Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life was instituted by Pope Francis on 15 Aug 2016 with the Motu Proprio, ‘Sedula Mater,’ and was placed under a Statute on an experimental basis on 4 June 2016, and came into effect on 1 Sept 2016.

The new Dicastery was invested with responsibilities and functions that previously belonged to the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, which are now defunct. Also linked to the Dicastery is the Pontifical Academy for Life and the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.

Like the previous Statute, the new Statute has been approved on an experimental basis, and will come into effect on May 13.

Dicastery no longer divided into three sections

The first novelty of the Statute is that the Dicastery is not divided into three sections, although it has more responsibilities.  ” In accordance with the principles of collegiality, synodality, and subsidiarity, the Dicastery will maintain relations with the Episcopal Conferences, local Churches and other ecclesial bodies, promoting exchange between them and offering its collaboration to promote values and initiatives” related to issues mentioned in the Statute.

Promotion of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world

The Dicastery is to animate and encourage the promotion of the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world, as individuals, married or not, and also as members belonging to associations, movements, and communities.  It will also promote an awareness of co-responsibility, by virtue of Baptism, for the life and mission of the Church, according to the different charisms received for common edification, with particular attention to the special mission of the lay faithful in animating and improving the ordering of temporal affairs.

The role of young people

The new Statute urges a “special solicitude of the Church for young people, “promoting their leadership amidst the challenges of today’s world.”  In this regard, one of the Dicastery’s main job is to prepare the World Youth Days.

Gender issues

The Statute specifies that the Dicastery will deepen its reflection on the relationship between man and woman in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity.  By valuing the feminine ‘genius’, the Dicastery will contribute to “the ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the Church and in society, promoting their participation”.

Pastoral care of the family

The Dicastery will promote the pastoral care of the family, protect its dignity and wellbeing, based on the sacrament of marriage, and foster its rights and responsibilities in the Church and in civil society, so that the family institution can always better fulfill its functions both in the ecclesial and in the social sphere.  In this regard, it will promote international conferences and events, especially the World Meeting of Families.

Married life

Referring to the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, the new Statute  “expresses the pastoral care of the Church also in relation to so-called “irregular” situations in married life.

Defending life

The new Statute calls on the Dicastery to support and coordinate “initiatives in favour of responsible procreation, as well as for the protection of human life from its conception to its natural end, taking into account the needs of the person in the different phases of evolution”.  The Dicastery will all promote and encourage organizations and associations that help women and families to welcome and foster the gift of life, especially in the case of difficult pregnancies, and to prevent recourse to abortion. It also will support programmes and initiatives to help women who have had recourse to abortion.

New ideologies

The new Statute reiterates that the Dicastery will study and promote training on the main problems of biomedicine and law related to human life and on ideologies that are developing with regard human life human race. – Vatican News

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