Archbishop Richard Smith told the media the Church must make the Gospel more accessible.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Archbishop Richard Smith told the media the Church must make the Gospel more accessible.

June 13, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON — The Catholic Church faces “a huge challenge” in communicating its 2,000-year tradition in a media world that is “more and more focused on just the sound byte,” said Archbishop Richard Smith.

The Church’s teachings do not fit easily into sound bytes or into 140-character tweets, Smith said June 6 in his annual breakfast with local media.

Those teachings are rooted in 2,000 years of deep philosophical and theological reflection, he said.

SOUND BYTE MEDIA

The sound byte media world raises an important question, he said. “What is it doing to our capacity to pause, stop, step back and really reflect on the issues of the day?”

Society itself is “increasingly busy, increasingly noisy and has an increasing number of distractions,” he said. “It can, in that environment, be a challenge to stay focused on the essentials.”

The archbishop told about a dozen journalists gathered at St. Joseph Seminary that while he has a Facebook page, he himself does not tweet on twitter.com.

The archdiocese has the Western Catholic Reporter, its own website and Smith writes a weekly online blog (archbishopsmith.blogspot.com). Smith said he sees the need for an overall communications strategy for the archdiocese.

This is the third year the archbishop has met with local media representatives in the event timed to coincide with World Communications Day (Ascension Sunday).

The Church, he said, in getting out its message, needs to understand the issues that are important in people’s lives. “What are their questions and what are their struggles?”

It then needs to respond in a way that opens up deeper questions for people’s reflection, he said.

The Church also needs to find ways to make the Gospel more understandable and accessible to people, Smith said.

Locally, the Church has picked up on Pope Benedict’s notion that beauty attracts, he said. “What we are saying with the pope is that there is nothing more beautiful than knowing the Lord and being in a relationship with him in the Church.”