A new book on “Church Communication” offers a glimpse to how the Catholic Church in Asia responded to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two years.
Titled “Church Communication in the New Normal: Perspectives from Asia and Beyond,” it gathers essays written by 20 Asian social scientists, theologians, and pastoral agents.
The book, edited by Anthony Le Duc, SVD, executive director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication is available can be downloaded free on the ARC website.
“This volume takes ‘communication’ as the keyword for the various research and reflections on the life and mission of the Catholic Church during the pandemic as well as post-crisis,” said Father Le Duc during the online launch of the book on October 19.
He said that during the pandemic, the Church transmitted “words and images … to the faithful and to the world to help the people cope with issues brought about by the crisis.”
The collected articles in the book show how the Church communicates with her people “to restate and affirm life-nourishing messages creatively with every human event,” said the priest.
“It has to do with pastoral and evangelistic work done by the Church and its members to keep the Church alive in the face of a grave situation of forced isolation,” he added.
“This research book talks about communication models and strategies,” said Father Le Duc, noting that Church leaders used technology to build ecclesial connections, nourish people’s faith, and talk to individuals and groups to create a genuinely synodal church.
Jesuit priest Paul A. Soukup of Santa Clara University in the United States said the book “should be essential reading for pastoral ministers, scholars, and communication officers.”
He said it combines compelling case studies “with analyses examining the opportunities and challenges offered by the pandemic both to Church communication and to the self-understanding of the Church.
Daniella Zsupan-Jerome of Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary in the US said the book “does timely and important scholarly work exploring the across-the-board emergence of faith communication as an essential aspect of ministry.”
Using COVID-19 as an overall case study, each chapter of “Church Communication in the New Normal” demonstrates the “integral role of communication in the way a community of faith gathers, worships and extends care.”
The book also showcases creative directions for ministry in light of the pandemic experience, “all the while rooting the study contextually across a variety of cultural locations both distinct but common, especially from the perspective of faith.”
“I enthusiastically recommend this volume, a fruit of profound scholarship and pastoral sensitivity, not only to all who live and work in Asia but also to those living on other continents, both Christians and followers of other religions, who work for human flourishing,” said Peter C. Phan of The Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought in Georgetown University, USA. – with a report from Kasmir Nema