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Father Bruno Holtz, Catholic communications leader, dies in Switzerland

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March 8, 2012

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) –Father Bruno Holtz, who devoted nearly 40 years of his life to promoting professionalism and building strong connections among Catholic journalists and communicators worldwide, died Feb. 29.



The Swiss-born priest felt that journalism could best be practiced by Catholic writers, editors and broadcasters who maintained their objectivity and practiced the highest professionalism possible in their duties, whether they were reporting on the Catholic Church or other issues.


Father Holtz became a well-known worldwide figure in Catholic communications circles while serving as general secretary of the International Catholic Union of the Press, UCIP, from 1984 to 1993.


U.S. Catholic journalists who worked closely with Father Holtz found him to be dedicated to improving the skills of communicators worldwide.


“Father Holtz was determined and assertive in the best possible sense,” said Msgr. Owen Campion, associate publisher of Our Sunday Visitor and the Vatican’s ecclesiastical adviser to UCIP from 1990 to 2000. “He was a creative and untiring supporter of Catholic communications, and, in the best tradition of the Christian prophet, he constantly reminded Catholic communicators in the electronically advanced and financially fortunate world of the needs of the church and of its media in less privileged circumstances. He was a man, and a priest, of dedication and commitment.”


Tom Lorsung, retired director and editor in chief of Catholic News Service, worked with Father Holtz on various projects.


“Bruno Holtz was the face of UCIP for me, a friendly, dynamic, larger-than-life figure whose energy was rewarded by bringing together journalists from all corners of the globe,” Lorsung said.


Staff members of the organization recalled Father Holtz’s long-standing belief that journalists serve “the whole of humanity with solid values, ethics and principles.”


Among the priest’s first tasks with the organization was planning the 1986 World Communications Congress in India, the first such meeting outside of traditionally Christian locales. The event opened the door to the congress being held in Latin America, Asia and Africa in addition to Europe and North America.


Father Holtz was instrumental in establishing the international journalism and media awards sponsored by the organization.


He also took steps to support young journalists by developing training programs and seeking opportunities for them to learn from veteran communicators and gain support from each other.


Father Holtz was born in 1933 in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. He was ordained to the priesthood in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1960 and belonged to the Bethlehem Mission society.


He entered the journalism profession in 1973 after joining the staff of the Liberty newspaper in Fribourg. The Swiss bishops’ conference subsequently hired him to handle communications and information. He then became chief editor of the Kipa-Apic, the Catholic International Press Agency based in Fribourg, before becoming general secretary of UCIP. From 1994 to 2004 he worked as president of the Swiss association of Catholic journalists.

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