A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, February 25, 2005

Crossroads of the Great Social Questions

"The Mass Media:
the Crossroads of the Great Social Questions

10. "The Church, which in light of the message of salvation entrusted to it by the Lord is also a teacher of humanity, recognizes the duty to offer its own contribution for a better understanding of outlooks and responsibilities connected with current developments in communications.

"Especially because these influence the consciences of individuals, form their mentality and determine their view of things, it is important to stress in a forceful and clear way that the mass media constitute a patrimony to safeguard and promote.

"The communications media must enter into the framework of organically structured rights and duties, be it from the point of view of formation and ethical responsibility, or from reference to laws and institutional codes.

"The positive development of the media at the service of the common good is a responsibility of each and every one.

"Because of the close connections the media have with economics, politics and culture, there is required a management system capable of safeguarding the centrality and dignity of the person, the primacy of the family as the basic unit of society and the proper relationship among them.

11. "We are faced with three fundamental options: formation, participation and dialogue.

"In the first place, a vast work of formation is needed to assure that the mass media be known and used intelligently and appropriately.

"The new vocabulary they introduce into society modifies both learning processes and the quality of human relations, so that, without proper formation, these media run the risk of manipulating and heavily conditioning, rather than serving people.

"This is especially true for young people, who show a natural propensity towards technological innovations, and as such are in even greater need of education in the responsible and critical use of the media.

"In the second place, I would like to recall our attention to the subject of media access, and of co-responsible participation in their administration.

"If the communications media are a good destined for all humanity, then ever-new means must be found – including recourse to opportune legislative measures – to make possible a true participation in their management by all. The culture of co-responsibility must be nurtured.

"Finally, there cannot be forgotten the great possibilities of mass media in promoting dialogue, becoming vehicles for reciprocal knowledge, of solidarity and of peace.

"They become a powerful resource for good if used to foster understanding between peoples; a destructive 'weapon' if used to foster injustice and conflicts.

"My venerable predecessor, Blessed John XXIII, already prophetically warned humanity of such potential risks in the Encyclical, Pacem in Terris.

12. "The reflection upon the role 'of public opinion in the Church,' and 'of the Church in public opinion' aroused great interest.

"In a meeting with the editors of Catholic publications, my venerable predecessor, Pius XII, stated that something would be missing from the life of the Church were it not for public opinion. This same idea has since been repeated on other occasions, and in the Code of Canon Law there is recognized, under certain conditions, the right to the expression of one’s own opinion.

"While it is true that the truths of the faith are not open to arbitrary interpretations, and that respect for the rights of others places intrinsic limits upon the expression of one’s judgments, it is no less true that there is still room among Catholics for an exchange of opinions in a dialogue which is respectful of justice and prudence.

"Communication both within the Church community, and between the Church and the world at large, requires openness and a new approach towards facing questions regarding the world of media.

"This communication must tend towards a constructive dialogue, so as to promote a correctly-informed and discerning public opinion within the Christian community.

"The Church, like other institutions and groups, has the need and the right to make its activities known. However, when circumstances require, it must be able to guarantee an adequate confidentiality, without thereby prejudicing a timely and sufficient communication about Church events.

"This is one of the areas in which collaboration between the lay faithful and Pastors is most needed, as the Council appropriately emphasized:

"'A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders.

"'The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters.

"'In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world.'"

from an Apostolic Letter
to those responsible for communications (nn.10-12)
Pope John Paul II
published February 21, 2005 (emphases added)