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Reflections: Cath. Fun &Actv. Sctn. (Cinema...)

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 Catholic Fun & Activs.: Motion Pics./Cinema, TV & Radio

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Cinema / Motion Pictures

Legion of Decency

Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties

Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators

Motion Pictures / Radio / Television 




"Indeed the effectiveness of our schools, of our Catholic associations, and even of our churches is lessened and endangered by the plague of evil and pernicious motion pictures." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"It is therefore one of the supreme necessities, of our times to watch and to labor to the end that the motion picture be no longer a school of corruption but that it be transformed into an effectual instrument for the education and the elevation of mankind." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"We trust that all good and prudent men, following Our counsels, will strive to ensure that the applause and approval of the general public will not be wanting, as a prize for really worthwhile films." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Unquestionably... one must repudiate the manner of acting of those who, from excessive indulgence, admit films which, for all their technical brilliance, nevertheless offend right morals; or, though they appear on the surface to conform to the moral laws, yet contain something which is contrary to the Catholic Faith." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"The most regrettable fact is that films very often portray a world in which men live and die as if God did not exist. The problem, then, is to prevent mortal dangers to the faith and the Christian way of life. One could never have to go before God with the responsibility of having tolerated such a situation, and one must make every effort to change it." (Pope Pius XII, 1957 A.D.)

"[A] force of such power and universality as the cinema can be directed, with great utility, to the highest ends of individual and social improvement. Why indeed should there be question merely of avoiding what is evil? The motion picture should not be simply a means of diversion, a light relaxation to occupy an idle hour; with its magnificent power, it can and must be a bearer of light and a positive guide to what is good." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"[I]t is necessary to apply to the cinema the supreme rule which must direct and regulate the great gift of art in order that it may not find itself in continual conflict with Christian morality or even with simple human morality based upon the natural law. The essential purpose of art, its raison d'être, is to assist in the perfection of the moral personality, which is man, and for this reason it must itself be moral...It is, in fact, urgently necessary to make provision that in this field also the progress of the arts, of the sciences, and of human technique and industry, since they are all true gifts of God, may be ordained to His glory and to the salvation of souls and may be made to serve in a practical way to promote the extension of the Kingdom of God upon earth. Thus, as the Church bids us pray, we may all profit by them but in such a manner as not to lose the goods eternal: 'sic transeamus per bona temporalia ut non admittamus aeterna'." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"It is equally the duty of the Bishops of the entire Catholic world to unite in vigilance over this universal and potent form of entertainment and instruction [the motion picture industry], to the end that they may be able to place a ban on bad motion pictures because they are an offence to the moral and religious sentiments and because they are in opposition to the Christian spirit and to its ethical principles. There must be no weariness in combating whatever contributes to the lessening of the people's sense of decency and of honor. This is an obligation which binds not only the Bishops but also the faithful and all decent men who are solicitous for the decorum and moral health of the family, of the nation, and of human society in general." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"But if they have clearly and publicly indicated which films can be seen by all, by the young, by adults; and those, on the other hand, which are a moral danger to the spectators; and finally, those which are entirely bad and harmful, then each will be able to attend those films only, from which 'they will come out with minds happier, freer and better'; and they will be able to avoid those which can be harmful to them, and doubly so, of course, when they will have been a means of gain for traffickers in evil things, and given bad example to others." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Further, the motion picture has enlisted in its service luxurious appointments, pleasing music, the vigor of realism, every form of whim and fancy. For this very reason, it attracts and fascinates particularly the young, the adolescent, and even the child. Thus at the very age when the moral sense is being formed and when the notions and sentiments of justice and rectitude, of duty and obligation and of ideals of life are being developed, the motion picture with its direct propaganda assumes a position of commanding influence. It is unfortunate that, in the present state of affairs, this influence is frequently exerted for evil. So much so that when one thinks of the havoc wrought in the souls of youth and of childhood, of the loss of innocence so often suffered in the motion picture theatres, there comes to mind the terrible condemnation pronounced by Our Lord upon the corrupters of little ones: 'whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones who believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea'." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"Since then the cinema is in reality a sort of object lesson which, for good or for evil, teaches the majority of men more effectively than abstract reasoning, it must be elevated to conformity with the aims of a Christian conscience and saved from depraving and demoralizing effects. Everyone knows what damage is done to the soul by bad motion pictures. They are occasions of sin; they seduce young people along the ways of evil by glorifying the passions; they show life under a false light; they cloud ideals; they destroy pure love, respect for marriage, affection for the family. They are capable also of creating prejudices among individuals and misunderstandings among nations, among social classes, among entire races. On the other hand, good motion pictures are capable of exercising a profoundly moral influence upon those who see them. In addition to affording recreation, they are able to arouse noble ideals of life, to communicate valuable conceptions, to impart a better knowledge of the history and the beauties of the Fatherland and of other countries, to present truth and virtue under attractive forms, to create, or at least to favor understanding among nations, social classes, and races, to champion the cause of justice, to give new life to the claims of virtue, and to contribute positively to the genesis of a just social order in the world." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

Also See: Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators | Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | Play / Pleasure / Relaxation | Television | Legion of Decency | The Entertainment & Communications Industries [Notable Catholics Section Reflections]

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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"An unceasing and universal vigilance must...convince the producers that the 'Legion of Decency' has not been started as a crusade of short duration, soon to be neglected and forgotten, but that the Bishops of the United States are determined, at all times and at all costs, to safeguard the recreation of the people whatever form that recreation may take." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"Now then, it is a certainty which can readily be verified that the more marvelous the progress of the motion picture art and industry, the more pernicious and deadly has it shown itself to morality and to religion and even to the very decencies of human society. The directors of the industry in the United States recognized this fact themselves when they confessed that the responsibility before the people and the world was their very own. In an agreement entered into by common accord in March, 1930, and solemnly sealed, signed, and published in the Press, they formally pledged themselves to safeguard for the future the moral welfare of the patrons of the cinema. It is promised in this agreement that no film which lowers the moral standard of the spectators, which casts discredit upon natural or human law or arouses sympathy for their violation, will be produced. Nevertheless, in spite of this wise and spontaneously taken decision, those responsible showed themselves incapable of carrying it into effect and it appeared that the producers and the operators were not disposed to stand by the principles to which they had bound themselves. Since, therefore, the above-mentioned undertaking proved to have but slight effect and since the parade of vice and crime continued on the screen, the road seemed almost closed to those who sought honest diversion in the motion picture. In this crisis, you, Venerable Brethren, were among the first to study the means of safeguarding the souls entrusted to your care, and you launched the 'Legion of Decency' as a crusade for public morality designed to revitalize the ideals of natural and Christian rectitude. Far from you was the thought of doing damage to the motion picture industry: rather indeed did you arm it beforehand against the ruin which menaces every form of recreation which, in the guise of art, degenerates into corruption." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936)

"Your leadership called forth the prompt and devoted loyalty of your faithful people, and millions of American Catholics signed the pledge of the 'Legion of Decency' binding themselves not to attend any motion picture which was offensive to Catholic moral principles or proper standards of living. We are thus able to proclaim joyfully that few problems of these latter times have so closely united Bishops and people as the one resolved by cooperation in this holy crusade. Not only Catholics but also high-minded Protestants, Jews, and many others accepted your lead and joined their efforts with yours in restoring wise standards, both artistic and moral, to the cinema. It is an exceedingly great comfort to Us to note the outstanding success of the crusade. Because of your vigilance and because of the pressure which has been brought to bear by public opinion, the motion picture has shown an improvement from the moral standpoint: crime and vice are portrayed less frequently; sin is no longer so openly approved and acclaimed; false ideals of life are no longer presented in so flagrant a manner to the impressionable minds of youth." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936) [Note: While this was true in 1936, things have obviously - and quite unfortunately - worsened dramatically since then.]

Also See: Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators | Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Cinema / Motion Pictures | Television

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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"There is a duty of conscience binding the spectators who, each time they buy a ticket of admission, - as it were casting a vote - make choice of good or bad motion pictures; a similar duty, and even more so, binds those who manage movie theatres or distribute the films." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Another duty which binds listeners, is to make known to the directors of the programs their wishes and justifiable criticism. This obligation arises clearly from the nature of sound radio, which is such that a wholly one-sided policy may come into existence, namely, that directed by the speaker to the listener." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"The first duty of the radio listener is that of choosing carefully and deliberately from the programs offered; these must not be permitted to enter the home indiscriminately, but access should be given them on the same principles as are observed in a deliberate and prudent invitation to a friend. A person would act wrongly if he made no selection in introducing friends into his home. So radio programs which are given entrance there, must be such as encourage truth and goodness, and do not draw members of the family away from the fulfillment of their duty, whether to individuals or to society; they should be such as strengthen them to carry out these duties properly, and, in the case of children and youths, cause no harm, but rather assist and extend the salutary control of parents and teachers." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957) 

"Finally, let listeners to the Radio be aware that they are obliged to encourage reputable programs, and particularly those by which the mind is directed towards God. In this age in particular, when false and pernicious doctrines are being spread over the air, when, by deliberate 'jamming', a kind of aerial 'iron curtain' is being created with the express purpose of preventing the entry of truth which would overthrow the empire of atheistic materialism, in this age, We say, when hundreds of thousands of the human race are still looking for the dawning light of the Gospel message, when the sick and others likewise handicapped look forward anxiously to taking part in some manner in the prayers and the ceremonies of the Mass of the Christian community, should not the faithful, especially those who make daily use of the advantages of the Radio, show themselves eager to encourage programs of this kind?" (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"The recipients can do more to improve the quality of the media than is generally realized; so their responsibility to do this is all the greater. Whether or not the media can set up an authentic dialogue with society depends very largely upon these recipients. If they do not insist on expressing their views, if they are content with a merely passive role, all the efforts of the communicators to establish an uninhibited dialogue will be useless. Recipients can be described as active when they know how to interpret communications accurately and can judge them in the light of their origin, background and total content. They will be active when they make their selection judiciously and critically, when they fill out incomplete information that comes their way with more news which they themselves have obtained from other sources, and finally, when they are ready to make their views heard in public, where they agree, or partly agree or totally disagree. There is the obvious objection that there is little a man can do alone at the receiving end. This is unnecessarily pessimistic. Recipients can find strength in unity. There exists no reason why they should not work closely together. They can band themselves into associations, just as communicators have been advised to do." (Pope Paul VI)

Also See: Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Cinema / Motion Pictures | Radio | Television | Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | Legion of Decency

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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"In order, then, that, in such conditions, shows of this kind may be able to pursue their proper object, it is essential that the minds and inclinations of the spectators be rightly trained and educated, so that they may not only understand the form proper to each of the arts, but also be guided, especially in this matter, by a right conscience. Thus they will be enabled to practice mature consideration and judgment on the various items which the film or television screen puts before them, and not, as very frequently happens, be lured and arbitrarily swept away by the power of their attraction. If there is lacking this mental training and formation, enlightened by Christian teaching, then neither reasonable pleasures which 'everyone readily admits are necessary for all who are involved in the business and troubles of life', nor the progress of mental development can be kept safe." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"The sound policy of Catholics who have encouraged, especially in recent years, the need to educate the spectators in this way, is most praiseworthy; and several plans have been launched which aim at making both youths and grown-ups willing to examine adequately and competently the benefits and the dangers of these shows, and give a balanced decision on them. This, however, should not provide an excuse for attending shows which are contrary to right morals; rather, it ought to lead to pointing out and choosing those only which are in accord with the Church's commandments on the grounds of religion and of the moral law, and which follow the instructions issued by the ecclesiastical Offices in this matter." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

Also See: Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | Legion of Decency | Cinema / Motion Pictures | Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties | Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Television

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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"Indeed, this should be the first aim of the arts of the Motion Pictures, Radio and Television: to serve truth and virtue." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"[I]f these arts [i.e. television, motion pictures, radio], without set laws or any moral safeguards, embark on a downward and uninhibited path, they will certainly restrict the people's true development and weaken their morals." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"[R]adio and television shows, since they easily penetrate right into the domestic circle, threaten to undermine the protective barriers by which the education of the young must be kept safe and sound until such time as advancing age gives the necessary strength to enable them to overcome the buffetings of the world." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"We make a father's appeal to the young so dear to Us, trusting that - since it is a question of entertainment in which their innocence can be exposed to danger - they will be outstanding for their Christian restraint and prudence. It is their grave obligation to check and control that natural and unrestrained eagerness to see and hear anything; and they must keep their mind free from immodest and earthly pleasures and direct it to higher things." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Just as very great advantages can arise from the wonderful advances which have been made in our day, in technical knowledge concerning Motion Pictures, Radio and Television, so too can very great dangers. For these new possessions and new instruments which are within almost everyone's grasp, introduce a most powerful influence into men's minds, both because they can flood them with light, raise them to nobility, adorn them with beauty, and because they can disfigure them by dimming their luster, dishonor them by a process of corruption, and make them subject to uncontrolled passions, according as the subjects presented to the senses in these shows are praiseworthy or reprehensible." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"[I]t is to be hoped that these new arts of publicity [i.e. television, motion pictures, radio], whether exercised by private citizens or controlled by rulers of states, will not spread doctrines while suppressing all mention of God's name and taking no account of His divine law. However, We are fully aware, alas, that in some nations amid which atheistic Communism is rampant, these methods of telecommunication are directed in the schools to root out all religious ideas from the mind. Indeed, anyone who considers this situation calmly and without prejudice, cannot fail to see that the consciences of children and youths, deprived of divine truth, are being oppressed in a new and subtle way, since they are unable to learn that truth revealed by God, which, as our Redeemer declared, makes us free; and that by this cunning method a new attack is being made on religion." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"The media are themselves new factors in contemporary culture, serving as they do large numbers of people at the same time. But as well as enriching culture, they can occasionally degrade it. They often play for the applause of the lowest cultural levels of their audience. And because they take so much of modern man's time, they can easily divert him from higher and more profitable cultural pursuits. An unrelieved diet of productions geared to the lowest cultural level within a population would tend to debase the taste of those who have already attained a higher level. These dangers can be avoided if communicators really care about the well-being of culture and buttress their good intentions with a sound knowledge of the science of education. Moreover, it will be recalled that the media are perfectly capable of productions on the highest artistic level, and for the great majority these are not necessarily the most difficult to follow and to enjoy." (Pope Paul VI)

Also See: Cinema / Motion Pictures | Radio | Television | Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties | Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators | Legion of Decency | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | The Entertainment & Communications Industries [Notable Catholics Section Reflections]

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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"Everyone knows what a great contribution good radio programs can make to sound education; yet from the use of this instrument there arises an obligation in conscience as in the other technical arts, since it can be employed to achieve good or evil. Those words, then, written in Scripture, can be applied to the art of Radio: 'By it we bless God and the Father; and by it we curse men, who are made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing'." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

Also See: Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Motion Pictures & Radio: Duties | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | The Entertainment & Communications Industries [Notable Catholics Section Reflections]

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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'Should we not shudder if we reflect attentively that by means of television shows, even within home surroundings all can inhale that poisoned air of 'materialistic' doctrines which diffuse notions of empty pleasures and desires of all kinds, in the same way as they did over and over again in cinema halls?'" (Pope Pius XII)

"To guarantee that the television industry will safeguard the rights of the family, parents should express their legitimate concerns to media managers and producers. Sometimes they will find it useful to join with others in associations which represent their interests in relation to the media, to sponsors and advertisers, and to public authorities." (Pope John Paul II)

"It is well known to Us with what deep interest vast numbers of spectators gaze at television programs of Catholic events. It is obvious, of course, - as We declared a few years ago - that to be present at Mass portrayed by Television is not the same as being actually present at the Divine Sacrifice, as is of obligation on holy days. However, from religious ceremonies, as seen on Television, valuable fruits for the strengthening of the Faith and the renewal of fervor can be obtained by all those who, for some reason, are unable to be actually present; consequently, We are convinced that We may wholeheartedly commend programs of this kind. In each country, it will be for the Bishops to judge of the suitability of televised religious programs, and commit their execution to the established Office, which, of course, as in similar matters, will be active and alert to publish information, to instruct the minds of the audience, and to organize and coordinate everything in a manner in keeping with Christian morals." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"This special power which Television enjoys, of giving pleasure within the family circle, is to be reckoned of very great importance, since it can contribute a great deal to the religious life, the intellectual development and the habits of those who make up the family; of the sons, especially, whom the more modern invention will certainly influence and captivate. But if that saying, 'a little leaven corrupteth the whole mass' corresponds at all to the truth, and if physical growth in youths can be prevented, by some infectious germ, from reaching full maturity, much more can some base element of education steal its way into the fibres of the religious life, and check the due shaping of morals. Everyone knows well that, very often, children can avoid the transient attack of a disease outside their own home, but cannot escape it when it lurks within the home itself. It is wrong to introduce risk in any form into the sanctity of home surroundings; the Church, therefore, as her right and duty demand, has always striven with all her force to prevent these sacred portals suffering violence, under any pretext, from evil television shows." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Thus, besides being discriminating television viewers themselves, parents should actively help to form in their children viewing habits conducive to sound development, human, moral and religious. Parents should inform themselves in advance about program content and make a conscious choice on that basis for the good of the family - to watch or not to watch. Reviews and evaluations provided by religious agencies and other responsible groups - together with sound media education programs - can be helpful in this regard. Parents should also discuss television with their children, guiding them to regulate the amount and quality of their viewing, and to perceive and judge the ethical values underlying particular programs... Forming children's viewing habits will sometimes mean simply turning off the television set: because there are better things to do, because consideration for other family members requires it, or because indiscriminate television viewing can be harmful. Parents who make regular, prolonged use of television as a kind of electronic babysitter surrender their role as the primary educators of their children. Such dependence on television can deprive family members of opportunities to interact with one another through conversation, shared activities and common prayer. Wise parents are also aware that even good programs should be supplemented by other sources of news, entertainment, education and culture." (Pope John Paul II)

"In recent decades, television has spearheaded a communications revolution which has profoundly affected family life. Today television is a primary source of news, information and entertainment for countless families, shaping their attitudes and opinions, their values and patterns of behavior. Television can enrich family life. It can draw family members closer together and foster their solidarity with other families and with the community at large. It can increase not only their general knowledge but also their religious knowledge, making it possible for them to hear God's word, to strengthen their religious identity and to nurture their moral and spiritual life. Television can also harm family life: by propagating degrading values and models of behavior; by broadcasting pornography and graphic depictions of brutal violence; by inculcating moral relativism and religious skepticism; by spreading distorted, manipulative accounts of news events and current issues; by carrying exploitative advertising that appeals to base instincts, and by glorifying false visions of life that obstruct the realization of mutual respect, of justice and of peace. Even when television programs themselves are not morally objectionable, television can still have negative effects on the family. It can isolate family members in their private worlds, cutting them off from authentic interpersonal relations; it can also divide the family by alienating parents from children and children from parents." (Pope John Paul II)

"In addition, it is essential that producers of television films take care not only to preserve intact religious and honorable principles, but also to be on special guard against the danger which the young may perhaps fall into, if they are present at shows intended for grown-ups. With regard to similar performances which are put on in cinemas and theatres, in order to preserve the common good, appropriate precautions have been deliberately taken in almost all civilized countries, with the object of keeping young people away from immoral entertainments. But it is common knowledge that television - and with greater reason - needs the benefits and safeguards of alert vigilance. It is praiseworthy that, in some countries, items forbidden to the young are excluded from the television programs; but if it happens that certain places admit such, then, at least, definite precautions are absolutely essential. It is useless for anyone to suppose that excellent principles and an upright conscience on the part of those engaged in these arts are sufficient either to ensure that nothing but good flows from the small white screen, or to remove all that is evil. In this matter, then, prudence and watchful care are especially demanded of those who make use of television. Due moderation in its use, prudence in admitting the children to viewing according to their different ages, a balanced judgment based on what has been seen before, and finally, exclusion of children from what are in any sense improper spectacles: all these are the duties which weigh heavily on parents and on all engaged in education. We do not overlook the fact that the directives We have just given in the last section, can sometimes produce serious difficulties and considerable inconveniences; for the awareness of their role as educators will often demand that parents give clear example to their offspring, and also bid them deny themselves - not without some personal sacrifice - some programs they would like to see. But who thinks the burden on parents is too heavy when the supreme good of the children is at stake? This being so, - as We declared in a letter to the Italian Bishops - 'it is a most pressing need that the conscience of Catholics with regard to television should be formed by the sound principles of the Christian religion'; the more so, in order that this kind of art may not be at the service of error or the snares of vice, but may prove to be rather a help 'to educate and train men, and recall them to their higher state'." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

Also See: Motion Pictures / Radio / Television | Motion Pictures & Television: Educating / Training Spectators | Parents, Youths, and Entertainment | The Entertainment & Communications Industries [Notable Catholics Section Reflections]

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Catg. | Scripture: A-Z | Catg. | Help

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