Council Resources




General Councillor for Social Communication


The occasion of the 120th anniversary of Don Bosco's Letter on Spreading good books invites us to a relaunching of Salesian publishing, in fidelity to Don Bosco in the new setting of the present day.

Salesian publishing production is now quite extensive. It should be enough to consider the number of our communication and information outlets: 61 publishing houses, 17 audiovisual centres, 33 radio stations, 22 TV stations, numerous press offices, 29 printing shops, 89 bookshops, 122 theatres-cinema halls. In these enterprises, but also in many other initiatives, we are concentrating our production of messaggi, in printed and/or in digital form, of books, magazines, (including the Salesian Bulletin in its 55 editions in 28 languages, 29 of them online), periodicals, newsletters, leaflets, posters, other paper products, as well as Radio and Television programmes, and also in multimedia format on web-sites and audiovisuals with the use of video, CD, DVD.

In his message to the World Advisory Body for Social Communcation Fr Pascual Chávez, 9th successor of Don Bosco, declared: Our Social Communication works are a resourceThe panorama of our publishing houses, centres for audiovisual production, printed publications is impressive. We must ask ourselves however about the quality, cultural significance, the teamwork we can achieve. He mentioned what the basic challenges are: If the Church is called to integrate the Gospel and the new culture of media (JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris missio, 37), we educators are equallly called to integrate educational wisdom, received values, models of assimilated behaviour, the preventive system, with the new world represented and carried through the mass media [1] . In his last letter of June 2005, the Rector Major has given deeper thought to the implications of this task.

The World Advisory Body for Social Communcation responded to the same question, repeating the need to give new impetus to our communication, to a cultural commitment in the different countries while safeguarding Salesian cultural tradition expressed in publishing, enriched nowadays with the new possibilities of multimedia, information and computer technology, without forgetting those characteristic forms of communication in Salesian education, such as the theatre, music, art, literature...

In the long history of the experience of the Congregation, various guidelines have been given regarding publishing which still have their value. In particular we may recall:

  • the letter of Fr Luigi Ricceri Family News (1977), on the centenary of the Salesian Bulletin, about the importance of Salesian information [2] ;
  • the letter of Fr Egidio Vigan The challenge of the media (1981), with the section diffusion of Salesian information [3] ;
  • the guidelines of the General Councillor Fr Giovanni Raineri (1981) who presented the thinking and practice of Don Bosco as terms of reference for a programme for Salesian publishing [4] ;
  • the intervention by Fr Juan E. Vecchi to the Directors of the Salesian Bulletin (1998), with guidelines to be applied to publishing in a wider sense especially regarding information [5] ;
  • the letter of Fr Vecchi Communication in the Salesian mission (1999), in particular what refers to the tasks of the Provinces [6] ;
  • the norms and guidelines scattered through the Constitutions and Regulations, in the documents of General Chapters, in the Acts of the General Council, in the official publications of the Department for Social Communication [7] and others to be found in the extensive experience of the Provinces.

Basing ourselves on these, we now give rather more emphasis to the relaunching of a publishing enterprise that is more focused, professional and organised, which better responds to the actual needs of the young and ordinary people in the world of today, and which offers a Salesian view and opinion that is coherent and shared, in pluralistic and different situations.

1. References and basic criteria for Salesian publishing

Salesian publishing is an uptodate response to the requirements of the Salesian mission for the education and evangelisation of youth, with special attention to the poor and ordinary people. It is not only a question of issuing good messages. It is necessary to know in what context to develop our mission in order to dialogue and interact with and have a significant impact on society.

This requires taking up a conscious stance in the related contexts of culture, of the Church and of the Congregation:

In the society and culture of today:

perceiving the opportunities and the challenges of the market place in the information society, and the signs of the times expressed in the current world agenda and interests not in a superficial sense of what is fashionable but in terms of fundamental questions that matter, of mankinds needs, of questions about meaning, relevance and faith. On the one hand it is a question of responding to the competition by providing specifically chosen and original publications that will have an impact on society in being of service to it and in collaboration with others who, are working to change the world situation. On the other hand it is necessary to ensure that reflections and Gospel values correspond to the real world of those addressed avoiding any semblance of dogmatism and indoctrination from on high.

In the Church of today:

taking up a stance within it, in communion with the Pope with the local Church with consecrated life, with the ecumenical movement, with inter-religious dialogue, conscious of the Church in the present time an of the need for evangelisation that if in harmony with the guidelines, the riflections and the procedures emanating from Vatican Council II and the Bishops Conferences.

In the Congregation and Salesian Family of today:

taking into consideration the Salesian context in which we are living today, in harmony with the ongoing life of the Congregation and the Salesian Family, with the basic criteria of Salesian youth ministry, with the recommendations of the General Chapters in particular the more recent ones, and with the subsequent programming of the Rector Major and his Council , and of Provincial Chapters, with the riflections and updated critical studies of spirituality, pedagogy and Salesian history.

Within these parametres the policy of Social Communication of the Salesian Congregation is based on criteria that distinguish the specific nature of Salesian activity and which indicate the priorities and the way of acting in this area, particularly in publishing, such as: the criterion of incarnation, the criterion of witness and vocation, the criterion of evangeliser and educator, the criterion of the preventive system, the ethical and professional criterion, the interdisciplinary approach criterion, the criterion of a system. The charcteristic Salesian elements of these criteria are presented in the handbook Salesian Social Communication System (SSCS) from the Department of Social Communication (cf. nn. 50-57).

2. Working guidelines for the qualified promotion of Salesian publishing

The new context of a society of information, that is globalised and interconnected, in which the communications media have acquired such importance as to be the principal means of guidance and inspiration for many people in their personal, familial, and social behaviour, requires a courageous commitment to the qualification and development of Salesian publishing activity. The adjective couragious is meant to refer to the encouragement provided by the Apostolic Letter Rapid devlopment not to be afraid of new technologies, of being opposed by the world, of our own weaknesses and inadequacy, but also to to make decisions and take up initiatives of promotion and qualification consistent with the urgency of the issue. [8]

I also offer some suggestions regarding some initiatives to be given priority and some strategies to be implemented. Since the needs of the Provinces are varied, each one will need to choose those which correspond best to their own needs and requirements.

2.1 Promoting the Salesian Social Communication System

in harmony with a Provincial Plan for Social Communication (PPSC) integrated with the OPP, as the indispensible basis for the steady development of social communication and for the ongoing quality-control of Salesian publishing. The SSCS sets out to implement, support and efficiently exploit to the full the processes of animation, formation, information and production that make the activity of Social Communication an effective contribution to the Salesian mission. On this account it is essential to implement what General Chapters have requested:

  • ensure that the Delegate for Social Communication has the means to carry out his mission of promoting in the name of the Provincial - Social Communication, and assist the individual communities in promoting various communication activities, offer his services to the various sectors of activity and maintain relations with local, ecclesiastical and civil organisations. [9]
  • make the Social Communication team effective in providing evaluations, research, studies, guidelines and handbooks for constant updating, and the Provincial and local commissions effective in planning and managing activities. [10]
2.2 Training Salesian and lay writers and educommunicators, [11]

to operate in a professional manner in publishing centres, in press offices, in centres for the production and broadcasting of audiovisual, radio, and television programmes, and in educational and pastoral institutions.

2.3 Improve the quality of information ad exploit to the full channels of information and dialogue

within but especially outside the Congregation and the Salesian Family. The purpose of Salesian information is to foster communion and the sense of belonging, the education and the evangelisation of the young, the mentalizzazione e la mobilitazione on behalf of the mission of Don Bosco, and the projection of an appropriate image of the Congregation. To increase and improve the quality of information it is suggested that the following should be given priority the responsibility for which rests with those in charge of the Social Communication Sector with their respective teams:

  • Periodically assess the qualiy of the information produced at world, provincial and local level, to evaluate its relevance and adequacy in reference to the objectives proposed, to the requirements of those it is aimed at, to the parametres of Culture, the Church and the Congregation;
  • Keep up to date a data base which facilitates a good and well-documented knowledge of the world of youth, and communicate this information to society so as to create public opinion and the formation of an attitude that leads to policies and action on behalf of youth;
  • Improve the quality of the ANS Agency making it more professional introducing and developing it in all the Provinces. ANS, registered as a periodical (1973), starting from 1992 became an agency with the name Agenzia Internazionale Salesiana di Informazione. The Agency is coordinated by the SC Department, with a central editorial office in Rome and a network of correspondents in all the Provinces. In fact, in its conception the Agency is intended to function in a decentralised manner based on two structures in mutual communication and substantially they carry out the same functions, although at different levels. As well as improving the prefessional approach of the central structure it is necessary to further develop the structure in the Provinces, within the parametres of the Salesian Social Communication System.
  • Set up a Press Office in all the Provinces as an internal service to the ANS Agency, involving the participation of professionals. Following the lines of the Provincial Plan this office is responsible for maintaining contact with news agencies, the media and the public at large, making itself the spokesperson for concerns about youth and educational issues, and for the safeguarding of the image of the Congregation and of Salesian activities;
  • Continue the process of relaunching the Salesian Bulletin, which has already produced a considerable improvement in quality and circulation, for which the programme for this six year period envisages some structural and development projects, with a specific contribution on the part of the Department for Social Communication;
  • Make the WEB-sites places for information, formation, sharing, at the service of the plan for animation and government, as sources of information about the Salesian charism and as a means for mobilising society in the cause of youth.
2.4 Make the best use and improve the quality of published material

such as books, magazines, radio and television programmes, audiovisuals,and of the businesses of Social Communication at the service of the educational and pastoral mission to youth. To this end it is suggested that priority be given to the following which should also be constantly monitored by those responsible for the businesses and those responsible for the sector of Social Communication with their own teams:

Periodically assess the quality of what is produced and evaluate its relevance and suitability with regard to the needs of the target groups, educative-pastoral objectives and the parametres of Culture, the Church and the Congregation;

Plan ways of promoting the development and the professional and Salesian qualification of the businesses, links and cooperation between them, within the parametres of the policy of the Congregation in this regard and especially:

  • The Provincial and his council in conformity with what Reg. 31 sets out, takes practical and systematic steps for the promotion of Social Communication businesses, their integration in the OPP and their administrative and management continuity. It should not be forgotten that the opening or closing of a new work requires the authorisation of the Rector Major with his Council (C. 165, 5). The Provincial Plan should provide for the choice of Salesian and lay personnel and their appropriate formation, so as to ensure a professional approach consistent with the Salesian charism in these works;
  • The Provincial Delegate for Social Communication should assist and promote synergy among the businesses, while respecting business practices and areas of competence. He should do so in the name of the Provincial and his Council, whom he will keep fully informed and from whom he will receive the necessary guidance.


Relaunching Salesian publishing of a high quality is one way of implementing Don Bosco's vision always at the vanguard of progress, in a context in which the media are continuing to have more impact and consequently more opportunities in the educational and pastoral field. The letter of Fr Pascual Chávez Con il coraggio di Don Bosco nelle nuove frontiere della comunicazione sociale (ACG 390) represents a programme for us also in this.

Not only those who have the special responsibility for the animation and government of the Provinces and communities and activites are called upon to be involved, but all Salesians so that they might make their contribution to Salesian publishing as writers, as publishers, as monitors of the quality of Salesian communication, as enthusiatic promotors and distributors of Salesian material.

The implementation of these guidelines requires a demanding and dedicated effort. Our appreciation of the value of this mission will become more convinced as a result of practical action. And by recalling Don Bosco, I therefore beg and urge you not to neglect this most important part of our mission. [12]