During a Mass celebrated to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of St. Clare as the patroness of television, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said television still holds evangelizing potential and should be used by Catholics.
During the Mass celebrated in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Clare, Cardinal Bertone noted there is a temptation to demonize television because of the negative and anti-gospel messages it often disseminates.
“The Church on the other hand insists that the media, and television in particular, has enormous potential in the hands of human beings and its effects depend on how it is used,” the cardinal said.
In this image-driven culture, he continued, “the Church recognizes that today there is a need for apostles and missionaries of Christ who know how to use the language of the modern media without ever compromising the integral content of the gospel.”
“In order to carry out such a difficult task, one must undoubtedly be very professionally and technically competent; but also one needs above all an intense interior life, a spirit of contemplation: the great missionaries, the preachers who reach the hearts of the people, are in fact people who live in profound union with God.”
On February 14, 1958, in the Apostolic Letter Clarius explendescit, Pope Pius XII declared St. Clare of Assisi to be the patroness of emerging medium of television. The Pope chose St. Clare because of her mystic experience of seeing and hearing Christmas Eve Mass in 1252 at the Basilica of St. Francis even though she was ill in her cell at San Damiano.
Referring to the experience of St. Clare, Cardinal Bertone explained that television is capable of combining fantasy with reality, and therefore broadcasters have a great responsibility.
The cardinal warned that today’s mass media tends to impose a uniform cultural model, “without respecting the ethical values that are indispensable in forming a peaceful society where the rights and duties of man are founded upon human dignity. Let’s think of the family, life, education of the new generations and other issues that touch upon the present and the future of humanity.”
“The perennial lesson St. Clare teaches us is this: let us be guided by the truth, which is the only thing that makes us truly free,” he said in conclusion.