Colombian bishops praise 'new communications paradigm' after 3-day CV workshop in Bogotá

Participants in the course for bishops in Bogotá

Catholic Voices coordinators Jack Valero and Austen Ivereigh faced their biggest training challenge yet earlier this month when they gave a three-day communications workshop to no fewer than 50 bishops and their assistants — over 70 participants in all — in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. 

The course (in Spanish) for the Colombian bishops’ conference (CEC) was arranged through the Holy See’s representative in Colombia, Mons. Ettore Balestrero, who was among those attending the 11-13 February workshop at the CEC’s headquarters.

'Communicating with Mercy' was organized by psychiatrist Dr Danelia Cardona, who also heads up the Colombian bishops’ pro-life office. Dr Cardona, who was then living in the UK, was among the first intake of CV speakers in 2010.  Joining Valero and Ivereigh to lead the course was Professor Yago de la Cierva, a communications expert who teaches in Madrid and Rome, who is the author of La Iglesia, Casa de Cristala series of studies and essays on crisis communications applied to the Church. De la Cierva has been invited by the bishops to advise them on communications during the papal visit. 

Asked to summarise their experience of the two-day workshop, the bishops described it as "very practical, useful, and timely for our pastoral mission", as "bringing about a change in the communication paradigm", "a new and effective way of speaking on TV and radio" and "an excellent way of learning to communicate with empathy without losing our identity". 

One bishop wrote that "if conversion is a change in outlook, this meeting was one of conversion -- may God reward you!"

Among the topics dealt with on the bishops’ course were communicating a papal visit (Pope Francis has said he will visit Colombia in the first half of next year), the controversy over the El Quimbo dam (an issue of social justice as well as ecology), euthanasia (which has long been depenalized in Colombia and will soon be regulated by law).

Earlier in the week, Ivereigh and Valero gave two other courses: the first to a new Catholic Voices group in Colombia, the second to the staff of the Universidad de la Sabana just north of Bogotá in Chia, close to the famous salt cathedral of Zipaquirá. Both trainings took place in the university’s superb studios.

In between the courses, Dr Ivereigh addressed a crowd of 300 at the Universidad Javeriana on Pope Francis's ‘communicating with mercy’, and gave a number of interviews to Colombian press, radio and TV on his papal biography, which is published in Spanish as El Gran Reformador.

The Catholic Voices team in Colombia has now begun an intense series of briefings and reframing workshops on key issues, which will take place over the next months. 

Catholic Voices Colombia team

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