COMECE holds “Catholic organizations working with the EU Institutions” meeting
COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, held a meeting under the topic “Catholic organizations working with the EU Institutions” in Brussels on Feb 15, 2023. The goal of COMECE is to dialogue with the EU institutions, providing contributions that promote common good and a human-centered approach in EU policies, and has been doing so since 1980 with the contribution and collaboration of the Apostolic Nunciature to the European Union and with the Vatican Secretariat of State. In this February meeting, the goal was to strengthen the network of Catholic organizations that work alongside different European Institutions, sharing the latest updates, projects, and initiatives that they are currently working on. SIGNIS Assistant Secretary General, Maria Chiara De Lorenzo, was present at the meeting and shared the most recent activities of SIGNIS worldwide and in Europe. For example, the participation at the Saint Francis de Sales Days in Lourdes, where SIGNIS President Helen Osman gave a speech reflecting on how Catholic communicators are, in a way, the voice of the Church; and the SIGNS World Congress that took place in August 2022 in Korea, an event that featured many interesting discussions about the state of journalism nowadays, how young people are a driving force for Catholic communications and welcomed Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Price winner Dmitryi Muratov, who talked about fake news and how “it’s a journalist’s duty to fight hate with facts”. Ms. De Lorenzo also shared the activities of the SIGNIS juries in several festivals across Europe, like the ongoing participation of the Ecumenical Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the different projects SIGNIS carries on in Latin America that involve the youth. Her remarks sparked a fruitful debate among the attendees, who wondered how they could collaborate with SIGNIS to include youth from their countries and associations in the activities, and how should we, as Catholic organizations, promote digital education and alphabetization, especially considering the difficulties many people face as they don’t always have stable access to electricity. The meeting was also a great opportunity to learn more about what different organizations are doing worldwide, such as Caritas Europe, Don Bosco International, Aid to the Church in Need, The European Laudato Si' Alliance, The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, and many others. Among the presents was also Pax Christi International, an organization SIGNIS has collaborated with in the past and published a joint article on peacebuilding, and their new secretary general Martha Ines Romero.
“Are we the voice of the Church?”, Helen Osman, SIGNIS President, at the St. Francis de Sales Days
The 26th St. Francis de Sales Days is an annual event that takes place in the city of Lourdes, France. It is organized by the Fedération des Médias Catholiques, SIGNIS, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, and the Italian Union of Catholic Press, with the aim of gathering Catholic communicators and media associations from around the world to discuss the most pressing topics on today’s communications world. This year, SIGNIS President Helen Osman intervened during one of the Study Days sessions under the topic “Are we the voice of the Church?”. This conference-debate meant to understand the combination between the journalists’Catholic identity and duty to inform and how to combine editorial identities with the ecclesial institution. Ms. Osman’s intervention was inspired by her being a mother and a grandmother. She affirms that a lot of what she has learned as a Catholic communicator comes from being a mother and having to communicate with her children “I communicate best when I listen well to those with whom I want to communicate. It’s more than dialogue; it’s trying to understand the other person’s perspective, their worldview, their pain, and their joys”. Helen recalls Pope Francis’ Message for World Communications Day 2022, “listening with the ear of the heart”. “Listening could be called the most challenging thing we humans experience. Active listening, real listening, sets aside my ego and agenda. I listen with the ear of my heart, not to prepare a response or to compare what I am hearing with what I already know, but just to listen. Listening then is essential to being human - and therefore, essential to what makes us Catholic”. So, we must see the Church as a mother who shall listen to the loving criticism of her children, “it’s not enough to have voices if we don’t listen, and the Church must listen to each of us”. And for Helen, those voices that for decades have been silenced, ignored, or put aside, are now being heard in the synodal process. Synodality is described by the Holy See as “walking together”. That phrase brings to Helen’s mind the story in Scripture of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, and encountering Jesus. In their walking together, they listen to each other, Jesus listens to them, and they listen deeply to Jesus. “Were not our hearts burning within us?” the disciples ask one another after Jesus leaves them. “As I discern what our Holy Father and the Holy Spirit are asking of the Church in this synodal process, I often find my heart burning, too. When we communicate deeply, on a spiritual level, when we listen not just to the words, but to the experiences of others, our entire self – mind, body and spirit -- becomes engaged in the communication. The synodal process creates communion through communication”, says Helen. “I hope and pray we have the courage to listen to the Holy Spirit, who I believe is speaking through the synodal process, to enlarge the space of our tent, to spread out our tent cloths unsparingly, lengthen our ropes and make firm our pegs. Then we will, indeed, be the voice of the Church”, she concludes.