Cutting down on communications

Disconcerting news last week from the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch. It’s about reorganisations, although that itself is nothing to be concerned about. These may be necessary for all kinds of reasons, and the ones presented by the diocese are understandable, if sometimes painful. Negative financial prognoses and fewer faithful essentially mean that the diocese is cutting its number of employees and shifting major responsibility for pastoral care to the parishes, specifically in the areas of marriage and family, youth, Church and society, and vocation and formation.

Several diocesan offices will also be closed, and here there is some reason for concern: the communications department is among them. In my personal opinion, communication should be one of the areas that we as Catholics should invest in. We must not only be able to speak about and defend our faith and the Church, but also be able to be informed. And although it is perhaps unfair to single out the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch, it is a fact that this diocese has, over the course of the past few years, has been the stage of a number of ‘incidents’ which would have benefitted from speedy and effective communication. And I think that we will see more cases in the future where the diocese must be able to do so.

Perhaps this task can also be taken over by individual parishes, but I think that individual faithful also have much to gain here. And yes, I am thinking about Catholic bloggers here as well. In a way, these can sometimes more easily communicate about whatever faith topic may arise. Whereas a diocese or parish sometimes carries the stigma of a ‘biased and official’ source, individual faithful normally don’t, communicating more easily to their friends, both in real life and in social media.

That’s not to say that faithful bloggers, however thoughtful and inspired, are professional communication experts, and in that sense financial cutbacks on communications are problematic: they mean that fewer professional or official spokespeople and communicators are active on behalf of the Church.