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Pope Francis, an evangelist for a modern world

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An interview with Fernando Cordero, journalist and priest and author of 'Master Chef of Holiness.'

Priest and journalist Fernando Cordero is the new director of the century-old magazine 21. For him, the pope is a good model of communication because his words and deeds are coherent—and the Church, with its good deeds, offers many stories that inspire hope.

The Church’s communication is an inexhaustible subject. What is being done right?

Many things are being done right, in different areas, ranging from the Holy See’s communications to that of dioceses and congregations, including many parishes that are shining examples of doing what is right, providing stories that fill the people who hear them—a public which is more varied and “catholic” (that is, universal) each day—with hope and commitment.

In the current digital era, the Church is present and is making people think, which contrasts with a way of providing information that could tend to deal in superficial matters rather than touching on substantial topics.

The ecclesial community, in which there are many committed people, offers thousands of examples of good news in the form of tweets or news reports, but it also does not remain silent in the face of injustices in a global village in which, at times, it seems we have lost our way.

This is why the word of the Church resounds forcefully, and is acknowledged as much in the United States as in Venezuela—or in Europe, regarding concerns surrounding refugees—just to cite a few examples.

This pope communicates well, although he hasn’t studied communication. So … what’s the origin of this good communication?

 It comes from his transparency, his truthfulness, and his authenticity. The pope simply communicates what he lives, what he believes. He is near to everyone, because he feels identified with Jesus of Nazareth, with Francis of Assisi, with Ignatius of Loyola … He communicates because he doesn’t want to forget those who are at the center of the Gospel: “Blessed are the poor.”

Are Catholics, with their publishing houses, magazines, radio stations, television programs … managing to evangelize a world that doesn’t even know if it wants to be saved?

They manage to be the leaven in the dough. If all these media outlets didn’t exist, they would be missed. They fulfill a mission: they are an invitation, directed towards the men and women of today, for them to be truly happy. They are not means of “indoctrination”; they are media that are working on the frontier, focusing on situations that we must continue to strive to improve and to understood more in depth.

Perhaps many do not use the language of “salvation,” but they do speak of love, of unconditional self-giving, of unlimited generosity. Adapting our language to our audience and using effective images and metaphors can help make the Good News known. Benedict XVI invited us to the “courtyard of the gentiles.” I think this is a very wise and necessary instruction.

Is being a priest and a journalist compatible, and easy?

I wanted to be a journalist since I was an adolescent. I currently live in the religious community of the Sacred Hearts in Barcelona, where we are in charge of a church; some of our religious also carry out pastoral work as teachers at Sacred Hearts Father Damien School. I will continue to combine this mission with my role as director of 21 magazine.

In my religious Province, I am in charge of internal communications. I think that being a journalist gives you a variety of possibilities, whether when writing an article or preparing a homily. We put a lot of emphasis on the field of communications, without a doubt. I personally understand it as a service to the Church.

You are going to be the director of a Church magazine that’s nearly 100 years old. What is a magazine like 21 good for at this point in time?

21 Magazine, which turns 100 years old in May of 2018, is a monthly Christian periodical, published by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts. 21, which was formerly called Social Kingdom, continues to be strongly inspired by the life of Saint Damian of Molokai, the apostle of lepers. Since the beginning, it has tried to echo the Good News, entering into dialogue with the world; today, it continues along that path of helping people to think, reflect, and understand more deeply the mystery of the human being, just as the Church invites us to do. This means we present our readers with different situations, especially the condition of people who suffer from some form of exclusion and who are the ones most often cast off into the ditch alongside the road of life.

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