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An Interview with Fabrizio Mastrofini



Gordon: Where did you attend university, what degree did you earn, what was your favorite subject, and why was it your favorite?


Fabrizio: In 1982, I graduated in Philosophy at the University of Rome 'La Sapienza'. In those years, I thought I would be a teacher of history and philosophy in our Italian school system. But then an Italian magazine published an article of mine and I embarked on a career as a journalist. Later I graduated in Psychology and last year, in 2022, I obtained a Doctorate in Communication Sciences (Salesian Pontifical University) with a thesis on social media (Twitter) and the experience of the Pontifical Academy for Life.


Gordon: When were you appointed Media Director Pontifical Academy for Life and what are your primary responsibilities?


Fabrizio: In 2017, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, approached the Holy See's Dicastery for Communication to have a person who could follow the press office. The Prefect, at the time Msgr. Dario Viganò, indicated me for that task. And so since 2017 I have been at the Pontifical Academy for Life where I take care of the press office, relations with journalists, social media, and the website.


Gordon: What are some of the social media challenges of the Vatican?


Fabrizio: I think the challenge is well expressed by the recent document of the Dicastery for Communication "Towards Full Presence": to be consciously present. It is very difficult, there is always the risk of being misunderstood. But it is a task we cannot shirk.


Gordon: What have been some of the challenges to the teaching of contraception by the Roman Catholic Church and how should they be addressed?


Fabrizio: I think the main challenge is very simple: to make people understand that the Church addresses people's conscience and the Church does not impose rules. Contraception is a very important issue, it was a 'sign of the times' in the 1960s. Today we have other very important challenges, truly epochal. Human life is challenged by the declining birth rate in several western countries, the destruction of the environment, wars, and technologies that intervene in the very construction of life. What is needed is an ethic truly in tune with the times. And a new language is needed to speak to the women and men of our time.


Gordon: You have written several books. Please provide an overview of Reformulate the Church? A systemic crisis.


Fabrizio: "Reformulate the Church" is an attempt to reflect on how Church structures can be designed and organised to make people work well. In fact, the reform of structures must always be followed by an adequate training of people, to enable them to work well, face difficulties, and overcome the conflicts that arise when working or collaborating together. The book is an attempt to explain how to grow a collaborative mentality. This would be a real ecclesial 'revolution'.


Gordon: Why did you write Followers vs. Twitter disrupts the Church" (Followers against. Twitter disrupts the Church) and please provide an overview of the book?


Fabrizio: The book stems from my experience of managing the Twitter account of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I explain how, through social media, controversies arise, information confusion arises and social media are used to attack the Church, some Curia dicasteries, and generate false information. The book focuses on the issue of 'information disorder'. Informational disorder is a new communication phenomenon, produced by the spread of social media and little studied in Italy. Today, information disorder is the strategy implemented by Catholic conservatives against the Pontificate. The book highlights the theoretical dimensions of the phenomenon. And from a practical point of view I show how it acts and how it can be countered, taking an emblematic case from the Twitter profile of the Pontifical Academy for Life. As Monsignor Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, writes in connection with the book, “in the changing era in which we are immersed, in the polarisation, in the proliferation of social media, the Church needs communication strategies that are up to the times and the challenges, capable of informing and forming. Thank you to the author and the publisher for this commitment”.


Gordon: Are there plans to provide an English version of the book?


Fabrizio: The publisher of the book is Marcianum Press, an Italian Catholic publishing house. It is up to them to ensure that the book is known and translated in the Anglo-Saxon world.


Gordon: Thank you for an incisive interview.


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