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Reflections: Catholic News Section (The Press)


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Catholic News Section:

The Press

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The Press



The Press

"Moreover, seeing that the chief instrument employed by our enemies is the press, which in great part receives from them its inspiration and support, it is important that Catholics should oppose the evil press by a press that is good, for the defense of truth, out of love for religion, and to uphold the rights of the Church." (Pope Leo XIII, "Dall'alto Dell'apostolico Seggio", 1890)

"Catholics are encouraged to read Catholic publications regularly. Naturally these must deserve the name of being Catholic. It is hard to see how people can keep in touch with what is happening in the Church without the Catholic press. Neither can people keep a Catholic attitude towards what happens in the world without the help of commentaries on the news written in the light of Christian principles." (Pope Paul VI)

"The Catholic press - and this includes reviews, magazines and periodicals - can be marvelously effective in bringing a knowledge of the Church to the world and a knowledge of the world to the Church. It does this by imparting information and by stimulating those processes by which public opinion is formed. There is, however, no advantage in founding new publications if quantity is achieved at the cost of quality and if the new injure the old." (Pope Paul VI)

"We have learned with not little joy that your press is a sturdy champion of Catholic principles, that the Marconi Radio, whose voice is heard in an instant round the world - marvelous invention and eloquent image of the Apostolic Faith that embraces all mankind - is frequently and advantageously put to use in order to insure the widest possible promulgation of all that concerns the Church, and We commend the good accomplished. But let those who fulfill this ministry be careful to adhere to the directives of the teaching Church even when they explain and promote what pertains to the social problem; forgetful of personal gain, despising popularity, impartial, let them speak 'as from God, before God, in Christ' (II Corinthians ii: 17)." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939)

"An anti-Christian press in religious and secular matters militates at its expense, so that your effort and money are required by the Catholic press." (Pope Leo XIII, "Custodi Di Quella Fede", 1892)

"Any propaganda that deliberately misrepresents the real situation, or that distorts men's minds with half-truths, selective reporting or serious omissions, that diminishes man's legitimate freedom of decision, this propaganda should be rejected." (Pope Paul VI)

"Our Christian conscience should be deeply concerned about the way in which sins against love and against life are often presented as examples of 'progress' and emancipation. Most often, are they not but the age-old forms of selfishness dressed up in a new language and presented in a new cultural framework?" (Pope John Paul II)

"Those who have to keep the public informed must give the news quickly if it is to appear fresh and interesting. Competition also obliges them to do this and speed is often won at the price of accuracy. The communicator has also to know the tastes and cultural level of his public and to take into account its known preferences. And when he comes to present the news, it is in the face of such hazards that a communicator must remain faithful to the truth." (Pope Paul VI)

"It is hard for anyone to learn the whole truth and to pass this on to others, but newsmen face an additional problem. Of its nature, news is about what is new. So journalists deal with what has just happened and with what is of present interest. More than that, out of mass of material, they just select what they judge to be the significant facts that will concern their audience. So it can happen that the news reported is only a part of the whole and does not convey what is of real importance." (Pope Paul VI)

"Can. 831 §1 Unless there is a just and reasonable cause, no member of Christ's faithful may write in newspapers, pamphlets or periodicals which clearly are accustomed to attack the Catholic religion or good morals. Clerics and members of religious institutes may write in them only with the permission of the local Ordinary. §2 It is for the Episcopal Conference to lay down norms determining the requirements for clerics and members of religious institutes to take part in radio and television programs which concern Catholic doctrine or morals." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"News of any event, even if nothing but the bare fact is related, has yet an aspect of its own which concerns morality in some way. 'This aspect, affecting human morals, must never be neglected; for news of any kind provokes a mental judgment and influences the will. The news-reader who worthily fulfils his task, should crush no one by his words, but try rather to understand and explain as best he can, the disasters reported and the crimes committed. To explain is not necessarily to excuse; but it is to suggest the beginning of a remedy, and consequently, to perform a task at once positive and constructive'." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

"Can. 2344 Whoever gives injury to the Roman Pontiff, a Cardinal of the H.R.C., a Legate of the Roman Pontiff, to Sacred Roman Congregations, Tribunals of the Apostolic See, and their major Officials, and their own Ordinary by public journals, sermons, or pamphlets whether directly or indirectly, or who excites animosity or odium against their acts, decrees, decisions, or sentences shall be punished by an Ordinary not only at the request of a party but even by office with censures and, or order to accomplish satisfaction, other appropriate penalties and penances for the gravity of the fault and the repair of scandal." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"They who desire to be of real service to the Church, and with their pens heartily to defend the Catholic cause, should carry on the conflict with perfect unanimity, and, as it were, with serried ranks, for they rather inflict than repel war if they waste their strength by discord. In like manner their work, instead of being profitable and fruitful, becomes injurious and disastrous whenever they presume to call before their tribunal the decisions and acts of bishops, and, casting off due reverence, cavil and find fault; not perceiving how great a disturbance of order, how many evils are thereby produced. Let them, then, be mindful of their duty, and not overstep the proper limits of moderation. The bishops, placed in the lofty position of authority, are to be obeyed, and suitable honor befitting the magnitude and sanctity of their office should be paid them. Now, this reverence, 'which it is lawful to no one to neglect,' should of necessity be eminently conspicuous and exemplary in Catholic journalists." (Pope Leo XIII, "Longinqua", 1895)

"The press, of its power and nature, is of towering importance. Because of its adaptability, because of its variety and of the number of its publications, it can go into detail when reporting the news. It can also comment on the news and, without boring the reader, interpret it in a way that makes him think for himself. It is a most useful complement to the audio-visual means of communication. It is a most effective means of stimulating men's critical faculties and of helping them form their own opinions. Since it is able to deal with such a variety of material and since it can so admirably encourage men to think, it has prime place in the promotion of social dialogue." (Pope Paul VI)

"Man's genius has with God's help produced marvelous technical inventions from creation, especially in our times. The Church, our mother, is particularly interested in those which directly touch man's spirit and which have opened up new avenues of easy communication of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientations... The Church, our mother, knows that if these media are properly used they can be of considerable benefit to mankind. They contribute greatly to the enlargement and enrichment of men's minds and to the propagation and consolidation of the kingdom of God. But the Church also knows that man can use them in ways that are contrary to the Creator's design and damaging to himself. Indeed, she grieves with a mother's sorrow at the harm all too often inflicted on society by their misuse." (Second Vatican Council)

"If news or facts and happenings is communicated publicly and without delay, every individual will have permanent access to sufficient information and thus will be enabled to contribute effectively to the common good. Further, all of them will more easily be able to contribute in unison to the prosperity and the progress of society as a whole." (Second Vatican Council)

"First of all, a responsible press should be encouraged. If, however, one really wants to form readers in a truly Christian spirit, an authentically Catholic press ought to be established and supported. Such a press, whether it be established and directed by the ecclesiastical authorities or by individual Catholics, would have for its manifest purpose to form, to consolidate and to promote a public opinion in conformity with the natural law and with Catholic doctrines and directives. It would also publish news of the Church's life and informed comment on it. The faithful should be reminded of the need to read and circulate the Catholic press if they are to judge all events from a Christian standpoint." (Second Vatican Council)

"The reporting of violence and brutality demands a special care and tact. There is no denying that human life is debased by violence and savagery and that such things happen in our own time and perhaps more now than ever before. It is possible to delineate all this violence and savagery so that men will recoil from it. But if these bloody events are too realistically described or too frequently dwelt upon, there is a danger of perverting the image of human life. It is also possible that such descriptions generate an attitude or mind and, according to many experts, a psychosis which escape the control of the very forces that unleashed it. All this may leave violence and savagery as the accepted way of resolving conflict." (Pope Paul VI)

"It would be shameful if by their inactivity Catholics allowed the word of God to be silenced or obstructed by the technical difficulties which these media present and by their admittedly enormous cost. For this reason the Council reminds them that they have the obligation to sustain and assist Catholic newspapers, periodicals, film-projects, radio and television stations and programs. For the main aim of all these is to propagate and defend the truth and to secure the permeation of society by Christian values. At the same time it earnestly invites groups or individuals who wield influence in technology or the economic field to give generously of their resources and of their knowledge for the support of the media, provided they are at the service of authentic culture and of the apostolate." (Second Vatican Council)

"The recipients who piece together the news that comes to them in fragments may well end up with an unbalanced or distorted idea of the whole picture To a certain extent, accuracy can be restored by the continuity of the flow from different sources, which must always be carefully assessed. The recipients of information should have a clear conception of the predicament of those that purvey information. They should not look for a superhuman perfection in the communicators. What they do have a right and duty to expect, however, is that a rapid and clear correction should follow any mistake or misrepresentation that has found its way into a report. They are to protest whenever omissions or distortions occur. They are to protest whenever events have been reported out of context or in a biased manner. They are to protest whenever the significance of events has been wildly exaggerated or underplayed. This right should be guaranteed for recipients by agreement among the communicators themselves and, if this cannot be got, then by national law or international convention." (Pope Paul VI)

"Towards these objects much may be contributed by those who have devoted themselves to writing, and in particular by those who are engaged on the daily press. We are aware that already there labor in this field many men of skill and experience, whose diligence demands words of praise rather than of encouragement. Nevertheless, since the thirst for reading and knowledge is so vehement and widespread amongst you, and since, according to circumstances, it can be productive either of good or evil, every effort should be made to increase the number of intelligent and well-disposed writers who take religion for their guide and virtue for their constant companion. And this seems all the more necessary in America, on account of the familiar intercourse and intimacy between Catholics and those who are estranged from the Catholic name, a condition of things which certainly exacts from our people great circumspection and more than ordinary firmness. It is necessary to instruct, admonish, strengthen and urge them on to the pursuit of virtue and to the faithful observance, amid so many occasions of stumbling, of their duties towards the Church." (Pope Leo XIII, "Longinqua", 1895)

"That part of the Catholic press which is of general interest publishes news and opinions and background articles about all the facets and the problems and worries of modern life. This it does in the light of Christian principles. It is the task of the Catholic press to balance, to complete and, if necessary, to correct the news and comments about religion and the Christian life. At one and the same time it will be a glass that reflects the world and a light to show it the way. It will be a forum, a meeting place for the exchange of views. This press needs talented men and funds if its professional competence is to be above dispute. The Catholic press must be able to acquire suitable offices and the proper facilities for obtaining news reports and features. Otherwise, a Catholic-run press cannot effectively promote dialogue inside the Church and between the Church and the outside world. It must also achieve professional standards in printing up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive news about the life of the Church. In the collecting, collating and passing on the news throughout the world there is need for cooperation at the international level." (Pope Paul VI)

"It is necessary with all care and diligence to procure the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church, even among the working-classes. The minds of men must be illuminated with the sure light of Catholic teaching, and their wills must be drawn to follow and apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious fulfillment of their manifold social duties. Thus they will oppose that incoherence and discontinuity in Christian life which We have many times lamented. For there are some who, while exteriorly faithful to the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry, in the professions, trade and business, permit a deplorable cleavage in their conscience, and live a life too little in conformity with the clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a scandal to the weak, and to the malicious a pretext to discredit the Church. In this renewal the Catholic Press can play a prominent part. Its foremost duty is to foster in various attractive ways an ever better understanding of social doctrine. It should, too, supply accurate and complete information on the activity of the enemy and the means of resistance which have been found most effective in various quarters. It should offer useful suggestions and warn against the insidious deceits with which Communists endeavor, all too successfully, to attract even men of good faith." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"Both the communicators and the recipients ought to be aware of their inherent dangers and difficulties. For instance, how can we ensure that this swift and haphazard and endless stream of news is properly evaluated and understood? The media are bound to seek a mass audience and so they often adopt a neutral stance in order to avoid giving offense to any section of their audience. How, in a society that is committed to the rights of dissent, is the distinction between right and wrong, and true and false, to be made? How in the face of competition to capture a large popular audience are the media to be prevented from appealing to and inflaming the less admirable tendencies in human nature? How can one avoid the concentration of the power to communicate in too few hands so that any real dialogue is killed? How can one avoid allowing communications made indirectly and through machinery, to weaken direct human contact - especially when these communications take the form of pictures and images? When the media invite men to escape into fantasy, what can be done to bring them back to present reality? How can one stop the media encouraging mental idleness and passivity? And how can one be certain that the incessant appeal to emotion does not sap reason?" (Pope Paul VI)

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