For its 18. Renovabis has chosen the topic "Church – Media – Public Opinion" for its 18th international congress and about 350 participants have come to Freising. Of course, media bishop Gebhard Furst is also on board.
The Irish priest who sang Leonhard Cohen's "Hallelujah" to the bride and groom at a wedding received nine million views on YouTube. The rocking performance of an Italian nun in a TV casting show was viewed by 28 million people on the Internet within two weeks. Reactions like this show: The Catholic Church is also present in the new media.
With such contributions, it provides entertainment in a thoroughly positive sense. But there is also the other side, for example when the penchant of a senior pastor for expensive buildings dominates the headlines for weeks on end.
"I communicate digitally, therefore I am someone."
Forms of communication and information channels are changing. Technical developments are advancing faster and faster. In the past, the philosophical principle "Cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am.) defined, rasonierte media bishop Gebhard Furst. For young people today, he said, "I communicate digitally, so I'm somebody."
The bishop of Stuttgart-Rottenburg is convinced that the church should not close its doors to the new media. If she doesn't deal with it, then she loses the ability to speak. Furst does not want quality to be written off. It must continue to be the standard when writing and creating articles and content, he said. The Church's task, she said, is to reflect on ways to maintain and promote the quality of journalism.
But this is not only true for the German dioceses. The church also wants to assert itself on the media market in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 1993, the Eastern European aid organization Renovabis has supported around 850 media projects with 16.5 million euros. This includes, for example, the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus. In Warsaw, on the other hand, the European Center for Communication and Culture was established, where journalists, teachers, educators and multipliers are trained.
The Western experiences flowed into the deliberations without wanting to influence the media concepts in the partner countries, emphasized Renovabis Managing Director Stefan Dartmann. But with regard to donors, it is not acceptable that every diocese in a country wants to build up its own TV station. That's when the aid agency advises cooperation, says the Jesuit. Incidentally, St. Ignatius had already emphasized that love consists in sharing, that is, communicating from both sides.
Placing church topics in the media is not easy in Eastern European countries. If there is not a papal visit coming up, there is not much interest in it, as Filip Breindl knows. The deputy editor-in-chief of Radio Proglas in Brno complains that a clear concept is lacking. Also the expert knowledge about church contexts often leaves much to be desired. Years ago, when Bishop Klaus Kung of Feldkirchen was appointed first as visitator and then as bishop of the diocese in the scandal-ridden Austrian diocese of Sankt Polten, Czech media made him "Cardinal Hans Kung".
Clear separation between information and proclamation
For the head of the German-language editorial department of Radio Vatican, Bernd Hagenkord, it is clear that Catholic media need a clear separation between information and proclamation. Information that is only accessible to users who share a preconception leads to special worlds. Packaging is what counts. Hagenkord quotes the former RTL director Helmut Thoma: "The worm must taste good to the fish, not to the angler"."