Archbishop Brady opens annual conference for European press officers in Maynooth; 20 July 2006 – Archbishop Brady opens annual conference for European press officers in Maynooth; Launch of Catholic Communications Office Annual Report 05/06
20 JULY 2006
ARCHBISHOP BRADY OPENS ANNUAL CONFERENCE FOR PRESS OFFICERS
Church and media relations needs to be more fruitful – Bishop Duffy
Launch of Catholic Communications Office Annual Report 2005 – 2006
The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady today opened
the annual conference of the press officers and spokespersons of the European Bishops
Conferences in Maynooth. Also at the press conference, the Bishop of Clogher and Chair
of the Episcopal Commission for Communications, Bishop Joseph Duffy, launched the Catholic
Communications Office Annual Report.
On welcoming the delegates Archbishop Brady said, “We are in St Patrick’s College Maynooth,
which has many links with Europe. This College was founded in 1795, in a fairly turbulent
time in the history of Europe, when Pope Pius VI was Bishop of Rome.
“Here in Ireland in 1795 the dark days of the Penal times were slowly but surely drawing to
an end. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the centuries of the Penal times, the Catholic
Church here in Ireland had developed a network of seminaries in Europe. The list is relatively
short, but a noble one, because they made a huge contribution to the faith here. There were
two in Paris, one each in Nantes, Bordeaux, Douai, Toulouse, Lille, Louvain, Antwerp, Salamanca,
Rome and Lisbon. And I think we should pay tribute to them and to you who represent your countries,
which were hosts to those Colleges.”
The Catholic Communications Office Annual Report was launched at the event by Bishop Duffy
who commented on the contemporary relationship between the Church and media: “This meeting
of European press officers gives us an opportunity to ask the following question: How do
we improve the relationship between Church and the mass media?
“Perhaps a starting point could be to explore how we can achieve a greater level of
understanding and tolerance of each other. In practice this means seeking a healthy respect
for our very different missions. For example, I appreciate that the media’s business, and
emphasis, has to be to provide news and commentary under tight time deadlines. The Church’s
priority is always the content of the Gospel message. Reconciling these different cultures
obviously requires more mutual engagement than we have been used to.”
Please see below the full addresses by Archbishop Brady and Bishop Duffy.
Welcome address by Archbishop Sean Brady to the delegates attending the annual CCEE
meeting of spokespersons and media officers of European Bishops Conferences, St Patrick’s
College Maynooth, Renehan Hall, 5:00pm, 20 July 2006.
On behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference I warmly welcome you all to St Patrick’s College
Maynooth, today, for this annual meeting for the spokespersons and media officers of the
Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, known as the CCEE.
This is the first time that this annual meeting has taken place in Ireland and I wish to
welcome the 35 delegates who come from: Austria, Belgium, Belarus, the Czech Republic,
England and Wales, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway,
Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.
Amongst these delegates I also wish to acknowledge and welcome the presence here today of
my brother bishops:
* Mgr Peter Henrici, President of the CEEM from Switzerland; In an earlier and different
chapter of his and my existence, I remember Bishop Henrici as Professor of Philosophy at
the Gregorian University in Rome, a professor to whom students owed so much in their studies
for the priesthood.
* Mgr Antoni Dziemianko, General Secretary of the Belarussian Bishops’ Conference; and,
* Mgr Czeslaw Kozon, Bishop of Copehagen.
I welcome Monsignor Peter Fleetwood, Deputy General Secretary of CCEE, i.e., the Council
of European Episcopal Conferences. Peter is a neighbour really, since he is a priest of
the diocese of Liverpool.
I also welcome Mr Thierry Bonaventura, Press Officer with the CCEE in St Gallen.
I welcome Monsignor Noel Treanor, Secretary General of COMECE, i.e., the Commission of
the Episcopates of the European Community. Noel is a Monaghan man and a priest of the
Diocese of Clogher and a past student of this St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Hosting the conference is our own Catholic Communications Office and I wish to pay a
special tribute to Martin, Brenda, Sr Mary and Marie for all the organisational effort
in preparing for this event.
We are in St Patrick’s College Maynooth, which has many links with Europe. This College
was founded in 1795, in a fairly turbulent time in the history of Europe, when Pope Pius
VI was Bishop of Rome. At that time the young revolutionary, General Napoleon Bonaparte,
was preparing to invade Lombardy, announcing his intention, as he said, “to free the Roman
people from their long slavery.”
Here in Ireland in 1795 the dark days of the Penal times were slowly but surely drawing to
an end. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the centuries of the Penal times, the Catholic
Church here in Ireland had developed a network of seminaries in Europe. The list is
relatively short, but a noble one, because they made a huge contribution to the faith
here. There were two in Paris, one each in Nantes, Bordeaux, Douai, Toulouse, Lille,
Louvain, Antwerp, Salamanca, Rome and Lisbon. And I think we should pay tribute to them
and to you who represent your countries, which were hosts to those Colleges.
With the French Revolution, many of those Colleges were forced to close. The result was
that a very large replacement programme was needed. It suited the British Government of
the day to help. The foundation of Maynooth was made possible by an Act of Parliament in
1795. Maynooth rapidly developed into a Seminary, larger than any that had existed before.
In its 211 year’s history this Seminary has sent out more than ten thousand priests. The
great majority of them went to minister here in the dioceses of Ireland but they also went
to various parts of the English speaking world. The continuing growth of the student body
allowed Maynooth to develop University status – two Universities, in fact, one with a
Pontifical Charter granted in 1896 and the second, as a recognised College of National
University of Ireland, in 1910.
Maynooth owes quite a lot to the Continent of Europe, and in particular to the Churches
from which you come. Among its Professors there were a number of Professors from France,
at the very beginning, like Professor Francois, who was Professor of Logic here in 1802.
Later on, in 1888 Henry Bewerunge, a priest of the Diocese of Paderborn in Germany became
Professor of Church Music. Salvatore Luzio, from Rome, was appointed Professor in 1897.
The first Professor of Scripture, Thomas Clancy, had been a lecturer in Theology in Prague.
Many distinguished guests have come here from your countries. King Juan Carlos and Queen
Sophia of Spain, came here in 1986 and in that same year, President Francesco Cossiga of
Italy, visited the College. Pope John Paul II came in 1979. The then Cardinal Montini,
later Paul VI, came in 1961.
The central task of the CCEE is to promote co-operation of the bishops in Europe. One of
the areas of co-operation amongst the Bishops’ Conferences in Europe is in the area of
social communications. The programme for this four day event is at once very interesting
while it also reflects current European media themes, such as:
* Christians and Muslims: pastoral issues in the Church and Society today;
* Catholic perspective on the freedom of the press and respect for religions;
* Ecumenical matters – in particular the development of the process of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly;
* The Peace Process in Northern Ireland;
* The European Union and the work of ComECE.
Some of you may be visiting Ireland for the first time. Perhaps you come from countries
where, in the not so distant past, freedom of movement between countries was neither
encouraged nor readily accessible. Today we rejoice in the growing openness of peoples
to one another and in the reconciliation that is taking place between countries which have
been hostile and at enmity with each other for a long time. No doubt communication and
dialogue have played a big part in those welcome developments.
One of the reasons why CCEE exists is to help in the overcoming of obstacles which threaten
the future of peace and the progress of peoples. The terrible events of recent days in
the Middle East, and in the Lebanon in particular, pose a huge threat to peace. My hope
is that in your deliberations you may discuss the most effective way of mobilising world
opinion in support of peace at this time of huge threat.
While these challenging topics for discussion will no doubt exercise and stimulate debate
amongst the delegates over the coming days, I am also glad to see that time has been set
aside in your busy programme for a visit to the ancient monastic site of Glendalough and
a social evening with Archbishop Martin, on Saturday.
Finally, I wish again to reiterate my welcome to you all this afternoon. As communicators
your role is central to the Mission of the Church and I pray that the fruits of this
conference will be of benefit to your important work.
I now hand you over to Bishop Duffy who will officially launch the Catholic Communications
Office Annual Report.
Address by Bishop Joseph Duffy, Chair of the Communications Commission of the
Irish Bishops’ Conference, at the launch of the Catholic Communications Office
Annual Report 2005 – 2006.
Thank you very much Archbishop Brady for your introduction. I too wish to take this
opportunity to welcome the delegates to this year’s annual meeting of the press officers
and spokespersons of the European Bishops Conferences. I also wish to welcome members of ]
the media present here today.
By way of introduction, I am the Chair of the Communications Commission of the Irish Bishops’
Conference. This Commission has charge of the Catholic Communications Office, and Veritas,
the publications organisation.
It is now my pleasant duty to launch the Annual Report of the Communications Office and you
have all been supplied with a copy of the report. I acknowledge the hard work of the staff
of the office: Martin Long, Brenda Drumm, Sr Mary O’Brien and Marie Purcell. I am happy
to assure you that their mix of talents and abilities makes for a professional operation.
Launch of Annual Report
As you will read in the report, the Communications Office provides a service on behalf of
the Irish Bishops’ Conference. It liaises with the public, the media, national and
international Church organisations, other religions, in addition to the voluntary, public
and private sectors. Reflecting the presence of the Catholic Church on the island, the
Communications Office is equally committed to the needs of the media both in the North and
The Office also liaises with the Diocesan Communications officers throughout the country.
In 2003, the Advisory Board for the Office was established in order to advise on strategy.
Intercom is a monthly magazine for those in pastoral ministry. The editor, Sr Mary,
oversees its publication with the support of an editorial board that is chaired by Mr
The Communications Office is also represented on the Irish Churches Council for Television
and Radio Affairs (ICCTRA). ICCTRA is a valuable instrument in promoting joint
communications initiatives between the Christian Churches.
Church and Media relationship
Finally, in the context of this meeting I want to offer a brief comment on the Church-media
relationship, in other words on how we get on together, or perhaps more to the point how
we could get on better for the greater good of those we serve.
As a bishop dealing with media and social communications since the 1980s, you will not be
surprised to hear from me that while media relations have always been challenging for the
Church, they have been particularly difficult in more recent times. Your meeting – which
is being held in Ireland for the first time – gives us an opportunity to ask the following
question: How do we improve the relationship between Church and the mass media?
Perhaps a starting point could be to explore how we can achieve a greater level of
understanding and tolerance of each other. In practice this means seeking a healthy
respect for our very different missions. For example, I appreciate that the media’s
business, and emphasis, has to be to provide news and commentary under tight time deadlines.
The Church’s priority is always the content of the Gospel message. Reconciling these
different cultures obviously requires more mutual engagement than we have been used to.
I respectively suggest that this time is as good as any to address the above question,
which in itself goes to the core of social communications.
It is important that a healthy tension exists between the media and the Church, as with
any other institution. To achieve this objective is clearly in the interest of the
common good. We all share responsibility in this regard. However, as far as the Church
is concerned, while our communications policy cannot afford to be static in the modern
media environment, you will appreciate that we must always remain faithful to our core
My brief remarks here today have been necessarily confined to identifying what is a major
communications issue. The task at hand therefore is to create an environment within which
Church and media working relations will become more fruitful and more responsive to new
avenues of truth. While this will undoubtedly take time, it is not just a task for clergy,
but concerns all those with a love for the Church.
Go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news! This remains the fundamental mission
of the Church. Whatever the age, whatever the historical situation, in season and out of
season, in this rapidly developing media age, we are called to ensure that the face of
Christ continues to be seen and the voice of Christ continues to be heard.
‘What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light
and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops’
Thank you for your attention.
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
NOTES TO EDITORS
* The Media Officers and Spokespeople of Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) meet
in St Patrick’s College Maynooth from 20-23 July 2006.
* 35 participants from 23 countries will be at the gathering: Austria, Belgium, Belarus,
Czech Republic, England and Wales, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Scotland,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.
* The meeting is organised by CCEE and is taking place at the invitation of the Irish
* The Bishops Conferences’ media officers will discuss the following themes :
– Christians and Muslims: Pastoral issues in the Church and Society today
– Catholic perspective on the freedom of the press and respect for religions
– Ecumenical matters – in particular the development of the process of the Third
European Ecumenical Assembly (Sibiu, Romania, 4-9 September 2007)
– The Peace Process in Northern Ireland
– The European Union and the work of ComECE
* The conference programme includes prayer and the celebration of Mass. The meeting
will also address the exchange of information on current issues within the work of the
Bishops’ Conferences in Europe.
* On Saturday 22 July, the participants visit the ancient monastic site of Glendalough
and in the evening will be received by the Archbishop of Dublin and ComECE Vice-president,
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
* The Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) brings together all 34 Presidents
of Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences. Its President is Mgr Amédée Grab, Bishop of Chur; the
vice-presidents are Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, and Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. The CCEE General Secretary is Mgr Aldo
Giordano. The Secretariat is based at St Gallen (Switzerland).