The world around us is changing rapidly.
This past week has seen much of what Catholics value being placed under the microscope.
The High Court’s ruling, which unanimously declared invalid the Government’s funding for religious chaplains in schools, stabs at the heart of a role that the Church cherishes and takes for granted.
Then there is the proposal by the AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan to override Andrew Demetriou’s decree and to permit AFL football to be played on Good Friday.
We might not want to admit that our Christian traditions and our Catholic way of life in particular are being affected by a rapidly changing world, but they are.
In his recent message on social communications, Pope Francis challenges the Church to be “attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert”.
He says that “to dialogue means to believe that the ‘other’ has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective” which “does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute”.
He echoes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he says that “effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others ‘by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence’”.
Pope Francis proposes that we “boldly become citizens of the digital world”.
He sees the revolution in communications media and in information technologies as representing “a great and thrilling challenge” and asks us to “respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination”.
The Record has been faithfully produced as the Archdiocesan newspaper for 140 years.
It has had many editors and seen significant modifications so as to meet the needs of a changing community.
The time has come for another step of change to ensure the Gospel sufficiently finds its place within the modern Areopagus.
The Record was reviewed in 2008, and again in 2013 as Archbishop Costelloe recognised the challenges of decreasing reach and readership which face print media both inside and outside of the Church.
The outcome of this five-month review, which consulted widely with targeted stakeholders and other religious and non-religious communities, is to produce a monthly magazine within a new communication landscape dominated by web-based, digital and social media.
With this in mind, the final edition of The Record as a weekly newspaper will be the last week of July.
A new-look magazine will appear later in the year alongside a new Archdiocesan website, offering only two of a number of changes needed to ensure we remain focused on reflecting the positivity, vibrancy, and spiritual wealth of the Archdiocesan community.
News reporting and present staff will become integrated into a more contemporary communications division so as to better serve the needs of the Catholic community and to deepen engagement with society at large.
Local, national and international news will continue to be produced but on a more immediate basis using digital and social media.
A shorter, simpler overview of the week’s news will then be made available in hard copy wherever possible in parishes.
Significant news stories will then be followed up and further explored in the monthly magazine.
This will be made available in print and online in a user-friendly, engaging and interactive online format.
The benchmark is to create a publication that is particularly attractive and which provides discussion on issues relevant to different age groups and cultures.
We will continue to focus on the good news present within the Archdiocese.
Reflection on the social and spiritual life of the Catholic community will feature prominently as will the development and strengthening of faith.
We will also aim to provide valued resources for students, particularly in support of mandatory religious studies in secondary schools.
Pope Francis recently shared his dream of a “missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation” (Evangelii Gaudium, s.27).
His desire is to “bring a new evangelising fervour and a new capacity for dialogue with the world whereby the Church is renewed” (s.29).
To accomplish this dream, and to ensure our Christian traditions and Catholic way of life are not further misunderstood or rejected but, rather, can again begin to shape and influence Catholics and culture alike, change needs to take place – and rapidly.
The Record newspaper has served the Archdiocese of Perth well for nearly a century and a half. Now is the exciting time to look ahead with fresh vision to the next 140 years.