Some solid advice and a little bit of wisdom, via Catholic News Agency:
Catholics should see the secular media as an opportunity to evangelize and more effectively reach “people who need heroes and need the Gospel,” said the head of a Catholic communications organization.
“Look to media as an apostolic opportunity. Call reporters, be their friends. Let them in on the Gospel,” said Kathryn Jean Lopez, director of Catholic Voices USA. “You don’t have to agree with everything they say or get them converted on day one. Have some patience. Respect their freedom. Share the truth. Be for real.”
“I know it is remarkably tempting to complain about the media, to see what is wrong. But oftentimes the coverage is hostile because hosts, reporters, producers, don’t know about Catholicism, they may know that bad experience, or their bad catechesis, or a caricature,” she said.
Lopez’s comments came Aug. 3 at the 2013 Napa Institute Conference in Napa, Calif. The annual conference brings together Catholic leaders from around the country – including bishops, religious, educators and laypeople – to discuss how to build Catholic culture in a secular society.
In addition to being editor-at-large of National Review Online, Lopez serves as director of Catholic Voices USA, helping prepare Catholics to speak effectively in media and public life.
She offered several tips for responding to criticism and controversy about the Catholic faith.
“Look for the positive intention behind the criticism,” she advised. “There’s often a Christian value to appeal to. Speak to it.”
She advised Catholic communicators to “shed light, not heat,” and to help “open doors to the sacraments.”
“People won’t remember what you said as much as how you made them feel,” she stressed.
In addition to concise speech that “speaks to the heart with solid content,” modern media includes the ability to use “images and video that capture attention like words don’t.”
Lopez also emphasized the importance of storytelling in sharing the faith, saying it is “one of the best things you can do to get people listening.”
“It’s not about you. It’s about Christ. That can actually be tremendously liberating,” she said. “God must increase, I must decrease.”
“We have to be willing to walk with people where they are, showing them Catholicism in its fullness. Show joy and sacrifice and rigor too. Be for real, making clear that we live in the real world.”