Bishops in the schoolrooms

CCEE proposed training for bishops. The Media training course will be held in Madrid December 9-11

How should one prepare for a TV-interview? What attitude should be avoided when standing in front of a TV camera? How can we ensure efficient participation – from the media angle – in a debate with one of more interlocutors holding opposite views? Bishops are increasingly confronted with such situations, in response to the call to bring the Gospel in TV, in talk-shows and across social networks. For this reason CCEE (Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe) has developed “Media training”, a brief training program for European bishops scheduled to take place in Madrid December 9-11. Field-test. The service is offered to European Bishops’ Conferences in the belief “that ever more often today our pastors experience the importance of practical knowledge of modern means of communication, including interviews on TV, on the radio or on the press, as well as in the case of talk-shows, entertainment programs and social media”. Fr Michel Remery, CCEE Vice-Secretary General, has been personally following the organization of the seminar and has recently presented the proposal to the presidents of bishops’ Conferences gathered for their assembly-pilgrimage to the Holy Land in mid-September. There are 25 places available for the first Media Training seminar. To ensure high-level courses, CCEE has contacted a specialized company in this field for advice, whose experts in modern technologies and communication tools will be illustrating case studies and field tests in cooperation with professional journalists. “On the stage”. “The initiative was a proposal of the bishops”, said Fr Remery. “Naturally, the pastors of larger dioceses, or the presidents of certain Bishops’ Conferences, will be able to count on the help of qualified staff at diocesan level. Also a number of national social communications offices are already working on the definition of this area. Moreover, it could be a useful proposal for those available”. Indeed, the pervasiveness of the media, coupled by specific features of modern communication tools, have caused serious difficulties not only to bishops but also to the heads of diocesan and national offices, as well as to lay Catholics serving the ecclesial community. When faced with thorny issues – such as issues involving the financial realm, or when confronted with authentic or alleged cases of sexual abuse – there is the risk of being put through the mincer by the media. Recently, as regards the debate ahead of the Synod on the family, several ecclesial personalities were objectively unprepared to “remain on the stage” when speaking of gender theories, communion to remarried divorcees, reception to homosexual persons in the Christian community, etc. Similar difficulties were experienced as concerns the reception of refugees and migrants in Europe. Word and words. “As a Church we carry an important, positive message, a ‘good news’ to be communicated”, added Fr Michel Remery. “But in order to do so we must not limit ourselves to Sunday homilies or catechetical meetings. Every occasion can be propitious to speak of Jesus, to bear witness to the Salvific message, communicating with today’s men and women with appropriate, transparent and convincing gestures and words. In order to seize these opportunities and enhance the media ‘stage’ it is necessary to be familiar with its rules, methods, arts and techniques, thereby ensuring that the focus is on the message”. It is no coincidence that the three-day course in Madrid envisages a case-study involving a public debate on the gender theory. This will entail, inter alia, a reflection on the differences between TV-interviews and Radio interviews, whereby the image-features prevail in the former, while the tone and voice quality – in addition to the content – are primary features in the latter. Indeed, the way in which one speaks and the relationship established with the interlocutor are critical to the clarity and the effectiveness of the message conveyed – along with adhesion of the content of speech to the Word of God.

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