Friday, August 04, 2006

DELHI: National Communication Conference - Final Statement

Final Statement of the National Conference of Catholic Communication, New Delhi (August 1-3, 2006)

A national conference of Catholic communication officials organized by the CBCI Commission for Social Communications was held at the Don Bosco Provincial House in New Delhi from August 1-3, 2006. The following is the full text of the the statement issued at the end of the conference:

We, Bishops and secretaries of the Regional Bishops' Commissions for Social Communications and Presidents of All India Catholic Union (AICU), Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA), SIGNIS India, and national secretary, Conference of Religious of India (CRI) assembled for the national conference organized by Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) Commission for Social Communications in New Delhi August 01-03, 2006, on the theme "A Communicating Church Looking Ahead" reiterate our commitment to make the Church in India a more communicating one.

We wish to redeem this pledge on social communications made at the CBCI General Body Meeting held in Trichur in January 2004. The mandate given at that meeting needs to be put in practice at every level (Bishops, parish priests/councils/laity) and be made an integral component in all the Church's programmes within a given time frame (December 2006).

We commit to implement more vigorously the Pastoral Plan for Social Communications at the National, Regional and Diocesan levels immediately. The communications structures should include Diocesan Social Communication Commission having in it talented trained youth, women, and Public Relations personnel from among Clergy, Religious and Laity. Care should be taken to be gender sensitive. They should produce software/ material for publications on issues affecting the society at large for the Print and Broadcast Media and the Internet.

We appreciate the effort of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications in undertaking the herculean task of conducting the "Indian Communication Survey 2005". The scientific rigor which has been applied to this survey is pioneering indeed and provides us with deep insights and significant benchmarks for the way ahead in social communications for the Church in India.

The Catholic Church is an inalienable and a significant constituent of Civil Society should become a more 'Listening Church ', sensitive to the hopes, aspirations and angst of the common man, woman and child, particularly the struggles of the Dalits, Tribals, Other Backward Classes, the landless peasantry and other marginalized groups.

The contemporary Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Media and professional skills are not an end in themselves. In fact, unmonitored, ill-mentored and exploitative "progress" in recent years has let lose forces of evil, moral degeneration and communal hate. The vacuity and the malice have to be challenged effectively. This can only be done when we have trained personnel to generate software and content with Christian values and priorities, our commitment for justice, peace and communal harmony to meet the ever growing insatiable hunger of the media.

In this context, we appreciate the Government of India for enacting legislation on the Right to Information (RTI), and demand that nothing be done to dilute any of its provisions. This will also help restoring internal communications, transparency and accountability in governance.

We believe that Christian Social Communications is enabling and ennobling. Hence, all Church personnel – catechists, health, educational, pastoral workers are an interface with Civil Society. They should be sensitized to recognize the grumble from the grass-roots and other issues affecting society from time to time and provide the appropriate, effective responses and rejoinders.

Recognizing the arrival of the Community/Campus FM Radio, we need to explore the possibility of starting broadcasting to promote education, health care and socio-religious amity.

We recognize a felt need to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of India, especially the low cost/alternative media/traditional media like performing arts and encourage talented artistes. This should be done "systematically and purposefully."

In the light of the above, each Diocese should take up the following key responsibilities immediately on a priority basis whenever they are non existent:

    1. Establish a Diocesan Commission for Social Communication.

    2. Designate/Establish a Media Office with a full time/part time Director/ Spokesperson.

    3. Network with mainstream media professionals in print, electronic, Internet and alternative/low cost media.

    4. Identify and train talented youth, including women, and support them to pursue university degree/diploma programmes in journalism and mass communication.

August 03, 2006

Most Rev Oswald Gracias
Archbishop of Agra &
Chairman, CBCI Commission for S. Communications

Fr Henry D'Souza
Secretary, CBCI Commission for Social Communications
New Delhi 110 001

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