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V COMLAC: Face to face to communicate hope

Wednesday 12 October 2016, by SIGNIS

Paraguay, October 12th, 2016 (AICA). The president of SIGNIS, Gustavo Andújar, said the V Latin American and Caribbean Congress of Communication (V COMLAC) allowed the participants to “meet as people ... to have the good fortune to know personally, interact face to face, and to strengthen friendship and affection ... the academic rigor of a Congress with deep human values”.

The V COMLAC, was held from 6 to 9 October in the capital of Paraguay, with the theme "Communication, citizenship, democracy and solidarity for a full life."

This continental meeting of Catholic communicators was organized by the Association of Catholic Communicators of Paraguay (ACCP), Paraguay SIGNIS member, and the Latin American and Caribbean Catholic Communication Association (SIGNIS-ALC); with the support of the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference (CEP), the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS) and the World Association for Christian Communication in Latin America (WACC-AL).

Media education and democratic culture

The V COMLAC began with a keynote panel on communication, citizenship, and democracy, composed by Monsignor Heriberto Bodeant, Chairman of the Department of Communication and Press of CELAM; Monica Villanueva of Peru; José María Centurión of Paraguay and José Luis Aguirre, of Bolivia.

There also was a conference on "The democratization of communications in Latin America" by Elson Faxina, Brazil, with Susana Nuin, director of the Social School of CELAM; José María Costa, of Paraguay and Luis Nocenti.

Throughout the Congress, among many other events were offered workshops on media education for a democratic culture, presentation of online publications, print media and development of audiovisual production.

Participants also reflected on modern communications in Latin America and the Caribbean, from the perspective of a Church committed to the social reality and the changes necessary to affirm the dignity of the person.

In this sense, the educational aspect of communication played a key role in the COMLAC. Indeed, Argentinean Daniel Prieto Castillo spoke about the pedagogical mediation of communication, and Peruvian Sister Rosa Mollo; Guatemalan Rigoberto Pérez Garrido, executive director of Communication and Press of CELAM and Carlos Ferraro, SIGNIS ALC, spoke on joint Media Education and integral development of Latin American childhood.

For its part, the Chilean Jaime Carril elaborated on the theme "Cultural transformation in Latin America," exposing the challenges offered multiculturalism and dialogue with otherness.

Care for our Common Home

The Congress concluded with several exhortations, including ones emerging from the Encyclical Laudato si’, The Citizen of Our Common Home by Mauricio Lopez, executive secretary of the Ecclesial Red Pan-Amazonian and on the vital role of indigenous peoples in the defense of forests by indigenous communicator Antolina González.

Omar Bogado, vice-president of Association CCCP SIGNIS-Paraguay, co-organizer of the meeting, remarked that "communication is a bridge, to be with the other, feel what the other feels, discover and experience the need of the other from its very essence, and it should lead to achieving spiritual affinity with the other."

Roque Acosta, member of the Governing Council of the Catholic University of Paraguay, stressed that "the conference provided an excellent opportunity to generate and promote the culture of the meeting, after so many years as communicators we travel Latin America, as members of the Church, as a society, connecting roads. What motivates us to feel and experience that we have a joint project for a better society". And he concluded: "We are committed to the core word that Pope Francisco presented for the next World Social Communications Day: hope."

Communicate mercy, hope, and trust

The closing Mass of the congress was held at the Assumption Cathedral and was presided over by Monsignor Adalberto Martinez Flores, a member of the Focolare Movement, president of the Communication Commission of the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference and president of the Department of Communication and Press of CELAM.

In his homily, Archbishop Martinez said the COMLAC coincides with the Year of Mercy because Catholic communicators are called to convey the mercy of God, communicating hope and confidence, echoing the central guidelines of the next World Social Communications Day, convened by Pope Francisco.

Meanwhile, Maria Jose Centurion, president of SIGNIS-Paraguay and co-organizer of the Congress, expressed with emotion having had to face many challenges arising throughout a year of preparation for the event, and that all was made possible through teamwork, leaders passionate about communication and at the service to the community.

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