Signis, the Vatican-approved organization for Catholic communicators, published a well-written statement for its membership–that is, for Catholic communicators–offering support and a direction for our communication in this time. I am sharing it in full here because it says so much more clearly and eloquently some of what I was trying to say in last week’s post:
Message from the Ecclesiastical Assistant of SIGNIS on a communication which is sensitive, supportive and close to the victims.
We are living a delicate moment in the Church with the news of thousands of cases of sexual abuse committed against defenseless persons in recent years, accompanied by the abuse of power and of conscience. But it is also a fragile moment due to the public and unjust criticism of Pope Francis by some bishops and cardinals. In both cases, we, as the Body of Christ, want to feel united in facing our pain as a wounded body, and we know how to react, with charity, humility and truth. “So that there are no divisions in the body, but that all the members are concerned about each other. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with
it. “ (1 Cor 12, 25-26).
In his letter to the People of God, last August, the Pope invites us to unite in prayer and penance and in acts of solidarity. ” The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.”
In our mission as Church communicators, I believe that today it is especially important not to lose our sense of being a body, and to offer in our media work a communication that builds unity, that resonates with the universal dimension of the Church, that informs with truth and transparency. We can make visible the actions of many communities striving to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel, and maintain the faithful and affectionate support of Pope Francis and the Church program he encourages.
We also need a communication that is very sensitive, supportive, and that stays close to the wounded, confused victims. Today is a propitious time to focus more clearly on our media, “to look in the same direction the Lord looks”, to identify with God’s little ones and the poor, who are his favorites. It is not our job to please those who take on the trappings of power and an overweening self-importance, nor to accommodate material and ideological interests, even within the Church itself—all of this is against the Gospel of the Lord.
The Pope’s letter holds a special message for a lay association like SIGNIS. Francis exhorts all not to engage in any behavior or attitude that reflects clericalism and undervalues the grace of the baptismal faith of all the members of the people of God. ” Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism. “
With the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit, let us continue to be cheerful in the mission of being faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus, working for the community that he wants.
Luis García Orso, S.J.
Mexico, September 21, 2018