At the end of his lecture on 'Pope Benedict and the Media' last night, Mark Dowd asked the audience whether they could talk together and suggest ways in which the Church could improve its media operations. Here are some of the written responses:
* Could the English Catholic Media Offices do more to provide 'diplomatic guidance' to the British Press to enable them to get more useful information out of the Vatican Press Office?
* Could the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and laymen and women working at the Vatican be given some media training - so they would feel more comfortable in their dealings with the press?
* We believe that we have the Pope that God wants for the Church at this present time. Should we be asking if the media can transmit the contemporary Word of God (as traditionally understood), or is God saying that the Word of God is to be expressed differently?
* How can we reach out to young people? After the recent abuse crises how can we restore the Church's reputation as a place of love, trust and safety? We need to value our young people more, protect them and allow them to have a voice.
* Mass media tends to focus on a very small area of Church teaching - usually all matters to do with sex. I feel we really need to place more stress on the other areas. Pope Benedict has said very powerful and challenging things about care of the elderly, nuclear weapons, war, poverty, climate change, the banking system and so forth. We don't hear enough about these teachings from the pulpit - let alone in the secular media.
* Mark Dowd said - a picture tells a thousand words. Where are the Catholic photographers taking iconic images?
* Catholic photographs are often so dull. You get lineups of priests in their vestments; priests saying Mass; cheque presentations; lineups of students; lines of Catholic women.
Let's see less pictures more thoughtfully chosen. The image of Pope Benedict with the solar panelled roof that Mark described would have been wonderful.
*What about a Catholic photography competition? These don't have to be preachy. They can be just beautiful. Last year I saw the picture of a sunrise over a monastery. A few years ago there were some wonderful images of children playing in an unusual snowfall that blanketed Jerusalem
* Is there an association of Catholic journalists?
* There used to be a Catholic journalism course at Louvain. Does it still exist? It would be interesting to hear whether they are looking at innovation in the media or maintaining the status quo. Could one of our Catholic colleges offer some media training?
* There is so much 'media' out there these days I believe many of us - even those of us who are not journalists or academics could do much more to let people know about our faith and what we are doing. I'm thinking of things like taking part in radio phone-in programmes; writing to the letters page of papers as well as telling the media when something that might be of interest to all readers is happening.
* Good Christian communicators need a good prayer life.
Would you like to add your comment on ways in which the Church can improve its media operations? Send ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read Mark Dowd's lecture see: www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=16713