Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 11. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope gets media's attention as he rebrands church, papacy, says priest

By  Ed Wilkinson Catholic News, Service
  • May 21, 2016

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Pope Francis has rebranded the Catholic Church and the papacy, and the media have taken notice.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation and the English-language attache to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, in the keynote address at the Brooklyn Diocese’s observance of World Communications Day, said people on the street know about the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis.

“Prior to Pope Francis, when many people on the street were asked: ‘What is the Catholic Church all about? What does the Pope stand for?’ The response would often be, ‘Catholics, well they are against abortion, gay marriage and birth control. They are known for the sex abuse crisis that has terribly marred and weakened their moral authority and credibility,’ ” said Rosica.

“Today I dare say that the response is somewhat different. What do they say about us now? What do they say about the Pope? People are speaking about our leader who is unafraid to confront the sins and evils that have marred us.”

Rosica, who was honoured with Brooklyn Diocese’s St. Francis DeSales Distinguished Communicator Award, said Francis has changed the image of the Church.

“We have a Pope who is concerned about the environment, about mercy, compassion and love, and a deep passion, care and concern for the poor and for displaced peoples roaming the face of this Earth,” he said. “Pope Francis has won over a great part of the media.”

The pontiff “has changed the image of the Church so much that prestigious graduate schools of business and management are now using him as a case study in rebranding,” the priest added.

While the Pope has caused more people to take notice, that doesn’t mean that everyone agrees or follows the message he preaches, Rosica said. But he explained that Pope Francis has opened up a dialogue with the world and the Catholic media is a big part of showcasing the work of the Catholic Church.
He referred to Francis’ message for World Communications Day to explain how Church media should go about its work.

“Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love,” he said.

That means that Catholic media should “listen” to, rather than merely “hear,” as it engages in dialogue.

It also means that Church media should communicate with everyone, without exception.

It further means that “Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”

Rosica further added that “political and diplomatic language would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope.”

“May our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous,” he said. “We can and we must judge situations of sin — such as violence, corruption and exploitation — but we may not judge individuals, since only God can see into the depths of their hearts.”

Rosica said the work of the Catholic media is to build bridges that encourage encounter and inclusion and to avoid misunderstandings that add to wounds and vengeance.

He urged a prudent use of some of the new social media.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.