We must be courageous inseeking new avenues forthe vital work of evangelisation

21 Jun 2024

By The Record

Holy Thursday Bishop Don Sproxton
Bishop Sproxton washes the feet of a Cathedral parishioner during the Mass of Maundy Thursday, 28 March, assisted by St Charles Seiminarian, Matthew Purt. Photo: Ron Tan.

The world around us is rapidly changing, particularly in the field of communication.

If undertaken effectively, it ultimately never stops. For us as a Catholic Church – the Archdiocese of Perth – it is at the core of what we do – the announcement of the Gospel!

In his 2014 message for World Communications Day, Pope Francis challenged the Church to be “attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert”.

He says that “to dialogue means to believe that the ‘other’ has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective” which “does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute”.

He echoes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he says that “effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others ‘by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence’”.

Pope Francis proposes that we “boldly become citizens of the digital world”. He sees the revolution in communications media and in information technologies as representing “a great and thrilling challenge” and asks us to “respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination”.

With the fact that the world is seeing ever-evolving changes in the way people access information, we must be courageous in constantly seeking new avenues for this vital work of evangelisation.

I am greatly encouraged by these words because I understand, that now more than ever, with the evolving developments in technology, and all that it brings, effective communication needs to be at the forefront of our minds in our mission to announce the love, mercy, and hope of Jesus Christ.

For our Archdiocese, this great adventure is made even more great by seeing the message of our own Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB spread far and wide across the internet.

“More than ever, we must make sure that Christ, the real Christ, is at the heart of everything we say, everything we do and everything we are.”

This means making difficult decisions about how, when, where and why we communicate.
Sometimes, that means discerning that at times it may even be best not to say anything at all.

This is why, as Archbishop Costelloe announced in his installation homily in 2012, that the greatest task and challenge we face today is to return the Church to Christ and return Christ to the Church.

It is important we all understand, effective communication is first and foremost about the message.
I praise the courage and strength of our former Archdiocese of Perth Bishops, Martin Griver and Matthew Gibney, in starting what is now one of Australia’s oldest Catholic and undoubtedly finest publications – our very own The Record.

It has served the Archdiocese faithfully now for 150 years and I hope and pray it will continue to serve the needs of the Catholic community and to deepen engagement with society at large; no matter what platform that may be.

Bishop Sproxton is now Acting Episcopal Vicar, Effective Communication.