02 May 2019

Catholic publishers reach out to the peripheries of the faith

Organised by the Dicastery for Communitation, the International Days for Catholic Literature will take place 26-29 June in Rome. The program provides for the exchange of experiences, and looks to adopt new synergies in response to the challenges of the digital age.

By Vatican News


The digital challenges of the twenty-first century pose a challenge to all publishers, whether Catholic or otherwise. With internet now becoming even more widely available, and at ever faster speeds, publishers must be attentive to the rapid transformation of media in order to respond to that challenge. And they must do so in a complex and fragile economic environment often dominated by the giants of the digital marketplace.

Jean Marie Montel, deputy general manager of the Bayard Presse and President of the Federation of Catholic media, explains that professionals need to communicate with one another, beyond linguistic and even cultural barriers: “There is a willingness to work together, to share our difficulties and desires. With the arrival of digital [era], borders are breaking down, and it will probably be necessary to work together more and more”.

Missionary commitments

Catholic publishers, beyond the traditional characteristics of a business, have a mission inspired by the Gospel. “Being Catholic means being universal”, Montel said. “From the moment the word Catholic is pronounced, all boundaries are abolished and by definition, everyone is addressed”.

It is a mission that echoes Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries of the world and of the faith. An example of this is the parish press in Europe. Such efforts are able to reach a large number of people within the territory of the parish, no matter their religious commitments. Digital diffusion makes it possible to be close to many people at the same time, and to extend one’s reach to other parts of the world. For Martel, “Catholic publishing undoubtedly the best way to reach people”.

The challenges of the digital age are immense. By working together, Catholic publishers can better understand how the internet can be an advantage to their work, and can better respond to changing expectations. In Africa, for instance, where the number of Catholics is increasing rapidly, more and more local churches are increasing their use of media. Asia’s Catholic population, too, is growing, and Martel suggests that “it is perhaps in these continents that the future of Catholic publishing lies”.  He expressed his hopes for a multiplication of synergies among Catholic publishers.

Shared strategies

The exchange of content, books, and projects can be one of the keys to resist the giant internet operations. “Amazon, Google, and others, are businesses with which we have to work, and at the same time, with which we have to struggle”, Montel concludes. Catholic publishers, he said, are called upon to adapt their approach, and renounce traditional rivalries.

Professionals who would like to participate in the first “International Days for Catholic Literature”, taking place 26-29 June, can find information and register at gec@spc.va.