Church and Media Seen as Colleagues, Not Foes

Archbishop Gregory of Atlanta Speaks in Rome

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A former president of the U.S. bishops’ conference says “the Church and the media must regard one another as colleagues, rather than adversaries, in seeking to serve and improve society.”

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, now head of the Atlanta Archdiocese, said Friday that “given the extraordinary scope of the media in today’s world, the Church herself must be engaged in working collaboratively with this powerful source of information and influence.”

He made his comments during a two-day symposium on “The Church and the Media: An Unlimited Future,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

In his address entitled “What Does the Church Expect from the Media?” the archbishop said: “While there may well be moments of tension, misunderstanding and differing perspectives with a particular component of the media, the Church cannot choose to ignore or fail to employ the services of so powerful an institution of public benefit.”

The 57-year-old prelate, who holds a doctorate in liturgy from the St. Anselm Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, appealed to the media to get good advice when identifying Church spokesmen.

“The media, for its part, must also seek proper Church authorities as spokesmen for the Church, both universally and locally,” he said. “Occasionally, the inevitable tensions should be settled through candid, frank and direct conversation.”

Archbishop Gregory continued: “As members of the Church, we must also realize that when we fail to participate in the efforts of the media within our communities, we inevitably create a vacuum that is usually filled by people who lack the knowledge or the authority to represent the Church.

“The Church expects the media to share in the progress of human society and to advance solidarity among individuals and nations alike.”

Moreover, he added, the “Church expects that the media will do all within its power to improve the human condition, both morally, economically, politically and artistically.”

“The media must have a passion in its pursuit of truth. Truth involves not only the facts, but also the circumstances that surround factual reality,” he said. “The Church expects the media to be fair, principled and balanced in carrying out its mission.”

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