“The culture of death advances, in large part, because of a lack of attention and information among the general public. What is more, the thoroughly galvanized anti-life and anti-family agenda of the pervasive secular mass media confuses and corrupts minds and hearts, and dulls consciences to the law written by God upon every human heart,” Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, said March 24.
Developing and supporting a “truly pro-life and pro-family media” is “of supreme importance” in an age characterized by its means of communication, he said. He also encouraged the organization of “public manifestations in support of the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and the integrity of the family.”
Cardinal Burke’s comments came in his address to Alliance Defending Freedom’s Catholic Media Symposium, held in Rome from March 24-27.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a U.S.-based legal group with almost 2,300 allied attorneys across 37 countries, organized the conference to help inform media professionals about its work in support of religious freedom.
Cardinal Burke said the gathering had a “critical importance” for “the future of our society and culture.”
He said communications media, with God’s grace, help Christians “overcome any separation of the Gospel from life.” This is especially true for “the heart of the Gospel,” which includes safeguarding and promoting human life, freedom of conscience and the right understanding of marriage and the family.
“Catholic media contribute in a most significant way to the work of a new evangelization,” he said. Citing Bl. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” he called for “a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life.”
Every threat to human dignity and life “must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart,” he said.
“The truth, the goodness, and the beauty of human life, of marriage and the family, the cradle of human life, and of religious faith and practice as the font of stability and direction for marriage and the family have their only source in God Who is all true, all good, and all beautiful,” the cardinal continued.
He said these transcendentals are opposed by a society and culture that “pretends to be self-made, without reference to God and to his law written into creation.”
Such a society does not recognize conscience, “the privileged place of the human heart in which the law of God is known and observed.” Rather, its authority becomes “subject to the will of those who have the greatest power.”
Witnessing to the “inviolable dignity” of all human life, the “integrity of marriage,” and to the rights of conscience are “the first and most fundamental way of radiating the living truth which Our Lord Jesus communicates to us in His Mystical Body, the Church.”
He said he hoped that his words would encourage those in Catholic media “to take new courage and new energy from the Heart of Jesus.”
Alan Sears, president of Alliance Defending Freedom, said the media symposium “comes at a pivotal point for liberty and for people of faith all around the world.”
“At every level there are direct efforts to stifle and limit human dignity – to limit the free exercise of faith and religion, to obscure the exercise of rights of conscience, to suppress the natural family, and to interfere with the educational choices of parents,” he said in his opening remarks March 24.
He said there are “serious efforts” to limit religious freedom and the rights of conscience and growing efforts to “punish those who dare disagree.”
He cited the threat of “international judicial activism,” cultural indifference to the sanctity of life, and “a concerted legal and cultural effort to redefine marriage and family.”
He said the organization opposes “those that seek to cleanse society of our faith, our values, and the proclamation of God’s Truth to achieve their totalitarian aims.”
The legal group has supported conscience rights for pro-life medical professionals and midwives who are being ordered to participate in abortions.
It has defended the presence of crucifixes in Italian classrooms and the rights of parents who wish to homeschool their children or to opt out of school courses that have explicit sexual content or have derogatory messages about Jesus and the Church.
Sears noted a Spanish prosecutor’s investigation of Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a homosexual advocacy group accused him of “hate speech” for affirming the catechism’s teaching on human sexuality.
The legal group is defending the cardinal, as well as religious ministers in Canada and Sweden who have faced legal action for criticizing homosexual behavior.
Sears said similar trends are evident in the U.S. He cited remarks from Chai Feldblum, head of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying she believes that even private beliefs condemning homosexual behavior “should not be tolerated.”
He said that many people “of sincere faith” face “relentless legal attack” for protecting life, preserving marriage and family, and manifesting their faith “with their words and their deeds.” He rejected complacency in the face of “formidable opponents.”
“As we face these daunting challenges, it’s imperative that we strengthen our understanding and our existing relationships ... and establish new ones with you,” Sears told the media professionals in the audience.
Sears said he looked forward to a day “when our legal systems and our cultures, no in so many ways so set against the Truth of God, are transformed and protect the sacredness of life, marriage, family, and religious liberty.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke has praised the work of Catholic media, noting its importance in forming a pro-life culture that respects religious freedom and the nature of marriage.
Alliance Defending Freedom