“In Latin America there are great enemies of peace, such as injustice, poverty and violence, and the journalist must identify with the problems and aspirations of the poorest of our continent, “said Maria Rosa Lorbes, in a brief dialogue with the editors of SIGNIS ALC.
Lorbés, who promotes the project “Church, public opinion and society” in Peru, points out that, facing the social realities that our peoples live, “journalists must always raise theirs voice to call for dialogue, rationality, consensus, to the benefit of the poorest citizens, fellows and compatriots in Latin America”.
The Spanish-Peruvian communicator, has a wide trajectory of service to the Catholic organizations of communication in Latin America, during her journalistic exercise she assumed the vice-presidency and later the presidency of the Latin American Catholic Press Union, UCLAP, from where she helped to “pave the way” for the fusion of the three historic communication organizations (UCLAP, OCIC-AL-UNDA-AL) to build OCLACC, that years later joined SIGNIS ALC.”
Nowadays, María Rosa Lorbés was nominated by several associates of SIGNIS in Latin America and the Caribbean as a candidate for the first vice-presidency of the World Catholic Association for Communications, SIGNIS, in the election process to renew its board, to be done during the Assembly of Representatives, in the framework of the World Congress to be held in in Québec, Canada, from June 19 to 22.
We want to share the dialogue we had with María Rosa Lorbés:
SIGNIS ALC: María Rosa, we know about your wide experience in Catholic communication organizations. How does your vocation for communication arise?
María Rosa: From a very young age I had great sensitivity and ability to express myself by writing; in the second year of primary school my best grades were in the grammar course and specifically in writing. Besides, my parents encouraged me a lot; I always had books for children and teenagers in my house and this further developed my pleasure for writing.
SIGNIS ALC: When and in under which circumstance do you connect yourself to the Church and to Catholic communication organizations?
M.R: Actually my first degree was in education, but I soon discovered that communicating and educating were two sides of the same medal. This finding, gradually led me from adult education to civic journalism, a journalism oriented to the education of popular leaders through the SIGNOS magazine of the Bartolomé de las Casas Institute, IBC, and the Center for Studies and Publications, CEP. In that context, back in the 1980s, I was fortunate to meet Monsignor Luciano Metzinger, who called me together with a small group of journalists to reorganize the Latin American Catholic Press Union (UCLAP) in Peru. From a very young age I had been linked to the Church and this call was very important to me. A few years later I was elected President of UCLAP Peru and later Vice-President of UCLAP-AL, and finally President of UCLAP-AL.
SIGNIS ALC: What moments or experiences have marked your life as a Catholic communicator? Could you tell us, if possible, some painful event that you had to live or cover as a journalist and that has moved you?
MR: As for painful events, during the years of political violence in Peru (1980-2000) it was very sad and exhausting to live every day covering, informing and taking a position, without fear, in defense of life and human rights , no matter from which side the victims were. 69,000 Peruvians, mostly Quechua speaking peasants, died by the hands of other Peruvians. It was very difficult to maintain the serenity and scrupulously respect the truth, without bias.
SIGNIS ALC: And, what event or moment of your professional journalism exercise has left you the greatest satisfaction?
MR: My greatest satisfaction was being able to contribute to create links and share objectives with the different branches of communication among Catholic organizations; OCIC, UNDA and UCLAP. It was clear that the development of communications was moving in the direction of work, integrating different languages and platforms. Most important was the conviction that the evangelization and culture required unity for greater strength and effectiveness. It was not easy because each organization defended its “space and power”. But I am happy to have helped to pave the way, along with other directors of the three organizations and the advice of Monsignor Ysern. This was the way to build OCLACC, which years later joined SIGNIS ALC.
SIGNIS ALC: Could you also remember some anecdote about your journalistic exercise and your participation in Catholic communication organizations?
MR: I remember thousands of anecdotes of fraternity and reunion with colleagues and friends of Latin America and the world. I remember moments of prayer of great spiritual depth. I am very grateful for the appointment of Honorary Member granted to me by UCIP in 1999 and the Prize as Communicator for Peace, which was granted to me by OCLACC in III COMLAC held in Loja (Ecuador 2007).
SIGNIS ALC: At present, what is your activity in the world of communication?
I am in charge of the project Church, public opinion and society, which wants to make visible in the mass media the service of the Church to society in the most conflictive and marginalized areas where the destiny of the poorest are in danger; human trafficking, environmental care, defense of the rights of indigenous people, prisons, youth, etc. The aim is to put these issues on the agenda of public opinion and contribute to social integration through a public and comprehensive debate on those issues that are crucial in the country and are often invisible.
One of the lines of this project is a Socio ecclesial Observatory that feeds on the information sent by a network of 60 observers in the different regions of the country with a special emphasis on the Amazon and the REPAM (Ecclesial Pan Amazonian Network).
SIGNIS ALC: Finally, what tasks do Catholic communicators have to face in the realities of our continent?
In Latin America there are great enemies for peace, such as injustice, poverty and violence, and communicators must feel identified with the problems and aspirations of the poorest of our continent. Journalists must always raise their voices to call for dialogue, rationality, consensus, and always for the benefit of these poorer Latin American citizens, fellows and compatriots. ”