by Gordon Nary
Gordon: Where did you attend seminary and what was the most challenging course that your took, and why was it challenging?
Father Baldo: I attended the seminary first in Italy in the diocese that gave me baptism and then, thanks to a period in a religious community, I studied in France in Toulouse with the Dominicans. I studied a lot and with great passion for souls in the seminary years and I think that the most challenging course for me was the Exegesis of the Old Testament because having Jewish blood it touched me deeply giving me a vision of Sacred Scripture up to having the possibility of deepening a year of studies in the Holy Land in which I was able to regain possession of that Tradition (with a capital T) which gives meaning to my faith and today to my ministry in continuity with Revelation. I had difficulties especially when I was confronted with certain modernist historical-critical methods but I think it gave me the possibility of being able to dialogue with today's world for a careful evangelization.
Gordon: You have an amazing background in communications, music, and evangelization Please share with our readers you work in newspapers.
Father Baldo: I was born into a Catholic family in Sicily and I lived my teenage years in a period in which a youth movement against the mafia was born, just at the moment when several characters such as Judge Falcone was murdered. I lived the cry of Saint John Paul II to the young Sicilians and at that time I worked for the radio as a deejay, a television journalist and I wrote in a newspaper, more as a passion than a job. It is in this context that I then trained as a priest, I had the grace of being able to attend a university course at the Pontifical Salesian University in Communication Sciences, and recently I did a Masters in Psychology of Communication and Leadership. In fact, since 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI wrote in various messages for the most recent World Day of Social Communications, which focus on the aspects that characterize the network as an anthropological place of communion and encounter, an invitation to make this world a network with new spaces for evangelization and the current Pope Francis has invited priests and consecrated persons to an authentic culture of encounter even in the media.
The Internet has radically changed the world of communication, allowing a new and shocking speed in the transmission of information, allowing direct access not only to consumption but also to the production of content, breaking down all spatial limits. Then the presence of a priest and the church plays a fundamental role ... I use a lot of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter,
Instagram, TikTok , ... trying to leave thoughts, reflections, sometimes lectio divina in digital form between a study and an in-depth study, sometimes of talk shows, sometimes of challenges for young and old people.
Gordon: Share with our readers your work in television.
Father Baldo :Especially in Italy, televisions know me as an opinion leader or as a priest deejay. They invite me as a rebel or revolutionary but I do not recognize myself in this label and I often provoke various reflections or interviews by going there in priestly cassock and trying to bring the announcement of the good news with a fresh and new language, but consistent with the Gospel values ??in the Catholic Church. Thanks to my ministry of formation in missionary empowerment, they sometimes call me to know more about the impetus of the outgoing Church but also thanks to music to console and offer the kerygma in a new way.
Gordon: You are also a photographer. Please provide and overview of your interest in photography.
Father Baldo: Photography is my passion of youth and today I continue to be taken by the photo as Henri Cartier-Bresson says: "A photograph is neither captured nor taken by force. It offers itself. It is the photo that captures you". I continue to take photos out of passion, sometimes I post them on instagram or on the net and often I need them to decorate the places where I live or even to decorate the poster prints and all the evangelization communication we produce. I often combine photos with phrases from the Bible or from famous authors and not to send messages of good words that have a weight and can produce in us conversion, compassion, joy, peace ...
Gordon: You are also a rock music promoter, a talent scout, and an artistic coach When did you develop in interest in rock music and how have you used it as an evangelization resource?
Father Baldo :I think that in other times we stopped to listen to music ... today from jogging to study etc. music accompanies life and for which having music close by and that speaks our language is not only important but also necessary: ?? it is an effective and very incisive means for the proclamation of the gospel... Rock today touches many generations ... it is no longer the music of rebels but I took him to the Mass ... not to shock but to allow a subculture that identifies with rock to be able to meet and live the Catholic faith.
Today I'm in the studio for an elecktro-rap project I'm composing the first electro-rap mass. We're working on it. Of course I don't imagine that all parishes adopt this music but often some groups and communities sensitive to outgoing evangelization come out of the comfort of polyphonic or traditional music to offer a musicality that can make some feel at home.
For me it is a re-search because I see too many Catholic brothers and sisters being attracted by other denominations or other religions for lack of first evangelization and they are unable to incorporate the values ??of the gospel and the church. We founded the Greater Glory ADMG association which tries to bring together artists to announce the Gospel through the "Via Pulchritudinis", (= the way of beauty) that is, through art. Some musicians in France, or Italy or Lithuania, compose songs or music for prayer or for external evangelization events on the street, in parishes, in groups and movements, on the beach.
I have often produced God's Party, real events in the disco with the slogan "there is more joy in heaven for a sinner converted than for 99 righteous" in console the priest deejay and the whole organization of an event that includes music and dance also testimony, and the possibility of confessing in secluded and silent places, in the bar there is no alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco ... all this for a first announcement reaching that youth often far from ordinary pastoral care. I saw beautiful fruits like a young drug addict who, thanks to our events, has started a detoxification process and is now very busy in a community of the Charismatic Renewal in the north of Italy; I think of the testimony of Cardinal Sepe who came to evangelize in the evening on the beach until late at night, seeing young people who are really far from the church come to confession.
Gordon: There was a tragic beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty outside of Paris recently. Please describe what happened and the impact of this on French society
Father Baldo:Although I am Italian, I am incardinated in the diocese of Fréjus Toulon in France and we are currently experiencing a real shock for the tragic beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris. Many in France want to exploit these events politically. On the one hand in the institution there are those who repeat that these facts will no longer be reproduced but the phrase is routine since it was repeated after the bataclan, after the attack on the Promenade degli Inglesi in Nice, the murder of the venerable Catholic priest Jacques Hamel. On the other hand, there are indignant people, often angry. Among these there are Muslims who are afraid because they feel oppressed and therefore do not recognize terrorism, there are Catholics and reformed or evangelicals who are afraid because the number of Muslims who ask to become Christians is increasing, resulting in the fatwa demanding an execution or expulsion from the place where the former Muslim lives. Personally, I think that the times we live in are for us Catholics a chance to look at and learn from our history. The French Church has for some time been engaged in a dialogue that I find very fruitful with Muslims, but some global communication and some politics are scary.
In Sicily in the 13th century the Norman culture of Northern Europe merged with Arab culture becoming a cultural wealth for the whole of the south of present-day Italy to the point of giving churches built by Muslim engineers who then slowly accepted the gospel which they represented in the mosaics. But the characteristic of these times was the kindness and convivial love of the different communities who had decided to live together not to proselytize but to share their treasures, so entire Muslim generations asked for baptism because they discovered the values ?? of the Gospel in a coherent way. and not with the holy war. This is for me a better historical lesson than any professor who offends a culture or a religion in order to make people think, provoking (rightly or unjustly) terrorist invectives. but I repeat this is my opinion.
Gordon: We are praying for Samuel Paty
Thank you for an exceptional interview. You rock as an evangelist. And the people of France, and especially the young people if France are blessed to have you as a Priest and evangelist.