St. Joseph Freinademetz Communication Center, Inc.

News and Information

16th Annual Bishops' Meet Opens Today

Hualien (14 November) – The 16th annual meeting of bishops responsible for social communication and their secretaries opened today at St. Paul’s Pastoral Center in Hualien, some 200 kilometers east of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

Ten countries in Asia are represented this year including India, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. Eight Bishops are present along with eight priests and more than a dozen lay and religious from various Church organizations. The Holy See’s Charge d’ Affairs in Taiwan, Msgr. Paul Russel, officiated the Opening Mass, and delivered the Keynote Address.


In Memoriam: Andre M. Cardinal Deskur

Andre M. Cardinal Deskur, the former president of the "Pontifical Council for Social Communication," died on September 3, 2011. He was 87 years old. As undersecretary since 1952, secretary since 1970 and president from 1973 to 1984, he was very much involved, first in the preparation of the Vatican II document of communication, "Inter Mirifica" (1963), when he was secretary to the preparatory commission, and then especially in the Pastoral Instruction "Communio et Progressio" which was demanded by the Vatican Council.

After publication of the instruction in 1971, he organized continental meetings for the implementation of this instruction in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceania until he got a stroke in the summer of 1978 from which he never recovered. He was very close to Blessed John Paul II whose visits in Rome as archbishop of his home diocese Krakow he used to prepare. This way, Cardinal Deskur also introduced the would-be Pope through several invitations before his election to a greater number of people. When Karol Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, he visited the paralyzed Cardinal in the hospital immediately the following day on October 17, 1978 where is is supposed to have said about Deskur: "He made me Pope."

The Requiem Mass for Cardinal Deskur was celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica on September 6. His body was finally laid to rest at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in his home diocese of Krakow.

With him, one of the pillars of the communication work of the Church went home to the Lord. Being paralyzed for 32 years, Cardinal Deskur served this concern through his suffering, but also through short papers which he still delivered at many of the annual meetings of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican. - FJE 270911

Book on Social Communication Documents of the Church Published

"Communicating Church: Social Communication Documents" is the title of a new book published in September 2011 by Divine Word Missionary Franz-Josef Eilers. The 224-page book is "a first attempt to collect documents on social communication in the history of the Church beginning with the Bible as the first book on and of communication" (from Introduction). The collection travels through time with the inclusion of writings of early Church Fathers like Gregory the Great, St. Benedict, St. Augustine as well as Popes through the ages up to John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The new book complements an earlier work of the same author ("Church & Social Communication, Basic Documents, 2nd edition" and "Church & Social Communication, Supplement I, Basic Documents"), which chronicles Encyclicals and basic Vatican documents from 1936 to 2002. Order from Logos (Divine Word) Publications, Manila email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 140911

Asian Communication Research Center to hold its 4th Roundtable

The "Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication," or ARC, will hold its fourth Roundtable on October 17-20 at Saint John's University in Bangkok. Themed Religion and Social Communication: Common Concerns and Commitment, the meeting will gather invited communication experts from Islam, Buddhism, Hindus, Christianity and other religions. Participants at the third ARC Roundtable in 2010 have drawn a research agenda. This year, the meeting expects to draw common methodologies to be applied across borders and contexts. Common concerns about conducting research in the field will also be discussed. 050911

40th Anniversary of "Communio et Progressio"

JFCC will organize a seminar on November 12, 2011 to commemorate 40 years of Communio et Progressio. Themed "40 Years of Communio et Progressio," the seminar hopes to spread awareness of this important document, considered the magna charta of Church communication, as well as study its significance in the present epoch. The seminar will be held at the Graduate School of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. Expected speakers include a panel of communication bishops from Thailand, India and Philippines. This event is co-organized by the UST Graduate School. 230811

'Media, Religion and Culture' At the IAMCR Conference 2011, Istanbul

The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) is one of the leading professional organizations for communication research worldwide. This is expressed in its vast international membership but also in the organizational structure, with 15 different "sections" and 16 additional "working groups" - all devoted to research in different fields of social communication.

IAMCR was founded in 1957 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris as a growing worldwide organization covering the East and West during the so-called "cold war."

The working group on "Media, Religion and Culture" is one of the older working groups in the organization and has over the years shown its stability but also its growing importance. This became obvious again during the IAMCR 2011 Conference (July 13-17) at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey. With some 1,200 participants from all over the world, such conferences have always been an opportunity also for young or aspiring researchers to present their papers and ideas in the different parallel sessions.

The"Media, Religion and Culture" group has, this year, not only a record in participation but also in the presentation of themes. All of the 12 working group sessions of the conference were occupied by the group, including a business meeting where it was proposed that the working group should be elevated into a "section" within the IAMCR structure.

The "Media, Religion and Culture" sessions had an average of 5 to 6 presentations per session. This means there were about 50 papers presented at the Istanbul conference with a great variety of themes related to Media, Religion and Culture.

The papers range from more theological considerations, e.g. on the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel as the first "Big Brother" by a Jewish scholar. Other studies took up the situation and impact of religion in different parts of the world, including Central Asia and Iran, with a critical assessment. The papers reflected not only Christianity but also other world religions.

There were papers with a more traditional content analysis. Several were on the use and effect of digital and new media on religion, like the religious impact of cellphone and SMS on young people in the Philippines, and the use of Internet and social media as missionary tools in Portugal.

The communicative role of pilgrimages was studied. The beatification of Pope John Paul II was analyzed under communication perspective as a religious and multi-media event. The political aspects of Hindu "tele-evangelism" were studied as well as "Story-telling, Narrativity and Revelations of Divinity in Urban Media Today."

Studies on the conflictual relationship between rabbis and journalists in Israel as well as the "Dynamics of New and Traditional Media in Contemporary Iran," "Media Framing of Religion and Politics in Turkey," "God in a Big City according to Internet uses in Russia," as well as "Media and Changes in Male Circumcision as a Religious Ritual in Uganda (Africa)" were presented.

The vast variety of themes but also the relatively big number of participants in the sessions definitely justify the elevation of the working group into a "section" within the IAMCR organization. After 9/11, an additional working group on Islam  was created, which had an additional 9 sessions within the Istanbul conference. Though this group handles only one religion, it shows that within communication research the need for serious study and research in this field is recognized.

Already at the Stockholm conference in 2008, the "Media, Religion and Culture" working group had proposed a "common research project" leading to "a common ground and approach to religious communication that applies to all religious phenomena." Here, "religion as a form of communication, or as a form of representation," would be one area which could be treated from both a "philosophical" or "semiotic," or from a "social" point of view, but very close to religious experience.

Further, it was observed that all religions have particularly transcendental immanent objects, words and persons which should be studied. Human life has essential experiences of birth, physical and natural misery with special symbolisms like human communication dimensions, which should be part of research. Such attempts would also mean "some kind of empirical data gathering, with corresponding methodological choices."

All these are possible studies for a common book which would consider the different world religions including traditional religions. They should contribute in a special way to building a "theory of religious communication," which is "largely inexistent" and even more so in a comparative (interreligious) perspective.

Several participants in the Istanbul conference showed interest to cooperate and further develop this project.

Jesuit Father Johannes Ehrat from the Gregorian University in Rome was the chairman of the working group for many years. In Istanbul 2011, he was succeeded by Dr. Frank D. Coffey (Canada) as chair, and co-chaired by Dr. Domenica Diplo (Uganda) and Dr. Yohel Cohen (Israel). The next IAMCR conference will be held in July 2012 in Durban (South Africa). 230811

WACC-Asia: Communicating Climate Change

“Communicating Climate Justice” was the theme of a Seminar of the Asian Region of the World Association for Christian Communication” (WACC) from May 15 to 17, 2011 in Yogyakarta (Indonesia). Some 50 participants from 10 Asian countries were presented with themes like the  global climate crisis impacting the poor and marginalized in the South as well as current initiatives towards solving the crisis. The keynote address given by the new WACC world president, Rev. Dennis Smith (Argentina), was on “Christian  Communicators’ Response to the Challenges of the Climate Crisis.” This was followed up by an additional special session on theological reflections on climate change.

The meting concluded with a “Yogyakarta Declaration 2011” expressing the opinions and concerns of the participants. “We, as Christian Communicators and members of WACC, stand up against the false climate solutions that continue to harm communities,” the text says, and recommends beside others” a preparation of ‘green guidelines for Communicators and Theologians.’ “

The triannual assembly of WACC-AR followed from May 18 to 21 to  review past activities and also plan for the coming three years till 2014. The chairperson for WACC-Asia,  Rev. Samuel Meshack, from  "Gurunkul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute” in Chennai (India) was re-elected for another three year’s term.

A new book entitled “Christian Communication: Ecumenical Challenges in the 21st Century" was also launched at the occasion. It was an initiative of the outgoing Executive Committe of WACC-Asian Region.

The conference was co-organized by the Catholic-run Kanisius Publishing House in Yogyakarta. 240511

JFCC Board Welcomes New Member

The JFCC Board of Trustees (BOT) has officially welcomed Fr. Gabriel Htun Myint as its newest member during the April 13 board meeting in Quezon City. Fr. Gabriel became a JFCC BOT ex-officio member after succeeding Msgr. Pietro Nguyen van Tai as RVA Program Director on April 1 this year. In a previous board resolution, Msgr. Tai was voted to remain BOT member joining the board's other representatives from the academe. This brings the total number of JFCC board members to nine. In March 2011, Fr. Gabriel has finished his MAT-SPC degree cum Licentiate in Pastoral Theology from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila. 180411

JFCC Hosts Annual Retreat of Vietnamese Nuns in Manila

Some ten religious sisters from Vietnam, all students in various universities in Manila, will have their annual retreat at St. Joseph Freinademetz Center (JFCC) from April 14 to 21. Msgr. Pietro Nguyen van Tai facilitates the retreat. The long-time coordinator of RVA's Vietnamese language section has already conducted a number of formation and training programs for Vietnamese priests and religious staying in the Philippines. 180411

Communications Training for Vietnamese Students in Manila

More than 10 priests, nuns and lay people studying in Metro Manila have undergone communications training for 15 Saturdays at JFCC. The training was under the auspices of the Vietnamese section of Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) . Modules on basic social and human communication were facilitated by former RVA program director and long-time Vietnamese section head, Monsignor Pietro Van Nguyen Tai, to four religious sisters, four priests, two laypersons and two religious brothers. The participants, natives of Vietnam, are all graduate students of different schools in Metro Manila, including the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas . The training started on Sept 4, 2010 and ended on April 2, 2011. A follow up is being organized for July, 2011. 060411

Five New Graduates of MAT-SPC

Five graduate students of Theology major in social/pastoral communication have graduated at the end of the current school year (2010/2011) with a corresponding degree (MAT-SPC) from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Three of the students have also earned an additional Licentiate in Pastoral Theology (STL) from the tie-up agreement between the Ecclesiastical Faculty and Graduate School of the same university. The graduates and their theses are:

1. Esguerra, Christian (MAT-SPC). Journalism Ethics in Pastoral Communication Perspective: The Case of the Philippine Press.

2. Fausto OP, Elisa (MAT-SPC). The Impact of Internet and Cellular Phone on the Spiritual Formation of Religious Sisters in the Diocese of Malolos.

3. Ta, An Vhu (MAT-SPC/STL). Communication Theology for Pastoral Communication: Theological Foundaton of Communication for Ministry.

4. Nengminja, Fidelis F. (MAT-SPC/STL). Basic Elements for a Pastoral Communication Program of the Diocese of Mymensingh (Bangladesh).

5. Htun Myint, Gabriel (MAT-SPC/STL). Towards Renewed Pastoral Strategies for Radio Veritas Asia and the Catholic Church in Myanmar.

This brings the total number of graduates of MAT-SPC to 18, since it started in 2001. MAT-SPC is an initiative of Divine Word Father Franz-Josef Eilers, former executive secretary of the FABC-Office of Social Communication. 060411

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