This role can be understood as presenting the public with reason and truth, he said, drawing on the writing of President Thomas Jefferson. In other words, the archbishop said that the media's role involves the natural law.
Turning to Fr. John Courtney Murray's thought, Chaput explained that the Jesuit "argued that the natural law – the idea that human nature is hardwired with universal, basic understandings of right and wrong – gave all Americans a common language for their democracy, regardless of their creed."
"But today our knowledge classes – the people who shape our universities, think tanks, mass media and political party leaderships -- no longer believe in the natural law. In fact, they’re often very fuzzy about what those two words – 'human nature' –even mean. They also tend to distrust religion in general and Christianity in particular. And that has consequences," Chaput stated.
"That brings us to my key point about the press," the archbishop said.
"Given the huge role Christian faith has always played, and still plays, in American life, any conversation about important public issues in our country that attempts to exclude religion will be incomplete. Yet it seems that, when it comes to religion, journalists and the people they cover are very different creatures. A 2005 study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center showed that 40 percent of Americans attend church services once a week or more -- but only 17 percent of press professionals do."
"The idea that this deep difference in religious practice doesn’t flavor our press coverage would be too strange to take seriously. In a sense, we are what we believe."
In the face of the media's failure to give a voice to the truth religion offers, Archbishop Chaput urged the audience of Catholic business professionals to "refuse to be stupid."
"We can decline to be sandbagged by our news establishment into thinking that marriage for homosexual partners is inevitable or an obligation of social justice; or that Islam and Christianity lead to pretty much the same conclusions about freedom, society and the nature of the human person; or that the abortion issue is somehow 'settled' when thousands of unborn children continue to be legally killed everyday," he said.
As he brought his address to a close, Archbishop Chaput called for Catholics to let their public moral witness "on abortion and every other vital social issue" be formed "not by the nightly news, but by learning and living an authentic Catholic faith."
Archbishop Chaput's full address to Legatus can be read at http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/2265.