Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said in an interview, published this week, that the Catholic media needs to be different from secular news and should seek and transmit the truth of the faith.
In an interview with Polish Catholic weekly “Niedziela”, the Archbishop said that the secular media often chooses to transmit manipulations of the Church’s teaching rather than what it is truly saying. “The media do not publish the whole texts of the Magisterium. The problem is that as a rule they choose (certain) points, often secondary, that can cause polemics or scandals,” the Archbishop said. “One should admit that we very often have the impression that we are living in some artificial virtual reality that is created by media workers and various opinion-forming people.”
However, the Archbishop said, “The Gospel is not a creation of human mind but God's message concerning the reality of man and the universe.” Therefore, Catholic media has a duty to report the whole of the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, in order to express the truth revealed through it.
Amato said a good example of the partial reporting of the secular media was the coverage of the 2003 CDF document, Dominus Iesus. Rather than focusing on the main theme of the document, which was “the salvific universality of Christ and the Church,” Amato said, “they stressed the ecumenical statements and arguments in order to polemicize against it. Instead of presenting the whole document, the headlines and first articles in international press showed it in alarming tones, stressing that it meant the end of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue and using the stereotyped statements 'closing up', 'return of pre-conciliar theology' or 'anti-ecumenism'.”
“In a word, the presentation of a church document should not be treated as a media event accompanied by sensational and scandalous elements, but as an important event in the Church, an occasion to form, evangelize and catechize people.” And it is the job of the Catholic media to strike the balance.
“We can make a conclusion that on the one hand contemporary media are characterized by certain superficiality and on the other hand they can exert powerful influence. And it is true that the more superficial the media are the more powerful their influence is,” the archbishop said.
While Catholic media should focus on current news items, Amato said, “information about the Church should be reliable, immediate, correct, convincing and positive…Catholic media should be characterized by the attitude of seeking and transmitting the truth and thus being differentiated from secular media, which give news in a polemical way, often resorting to the form of dialogue, which actually serves to make news a relative topic.”
Furthermore, the archbishop said, “Catholic press should not uncritically discuss the subjects of secular media, investigating artificially created 'religious events'.”
Catholic media should remain true to their name and report stories so as not to create doubts in the minds of believers, as regards Magisterial teachings. By leaving arguments open-ended in the same way that the secular media does, “there is an impression that the commands of the Magisterium are only opinions which one can agree with or not,” Amato reasoned
In answer to the question of how the Catholic media can, “contribute to continuous formation of the faithful,” Archbishop Amato said they must rely upon the richness of the Catholic tradition as well as the documents themselves to give arguments that will aid Catholics in refuting negative and groundless judgments of the Church. “In order to contribute to the formation of the faithful, Catholic media must be creative, on a highly cultured level, and above all, sensitive to education in faith. The Christian tradition is two thousand years old, so we have at our disposal a large number of works (the Fathers of the Church, great theologians of each epoch, saints, works of various schools of spirituality and liturgical traditions, art), which should be proposed to readers.”
“The Christian civilization is not a museum to visit and admire but a continuous vivid reality, which inspires and supports and which has to be appreciated today,” Amato concluded.