Media Have "Real Power," Say African Bishops

Synod Participants Discuss Importance of Communication

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2009 ( An intervention on the evangelization of the media during the special synod on Africa set off a discussion among the participants on the “real power” of the media.

Bishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of Kilwa-Kasenga, Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke Wednesday afternoon during the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on the “need to make the evangelization of the media a pastoral priority.”

However, the bishop noted, the media are “polluted by manipulation, political propaganda, non-edifying entertainment and activism by sects, but also marked by the imperialism of foreign media who propose themselves by imposing themselves.”

“Ecclesial communication must become a pastoral priority,” he said, but noted that “the means of social communications must be truly placed at the service of evangelization and the evangelized themselves.”

Of the 18 interventions that took place at the end of that session, “a good number” made reference to the role of the media in Africa, echoing the comments of Bishop Mugalu, a spokesman for the synod said Thursday in a press briefing.

The spokesman said several bishops commented that the media constitute “the real power, more than the political power, as it transmits models of behavior,” which can have a “destructive impact on African culture.”
It is necessary to be prepared for a “critical use” of the media, the spokesman continued, and to have “centers of social communication that are technologically advanced,” though it is not always possible to counteract misinformation.”
The synod representative noted that several bishops noted Benedict XVI’s visit to Africa as an example of media bias, “as it concentrated above all on the issue of the condom in the fight against AIDS.”
The discussion also touched on the need to educate Christian journalists who can give “positive news.” These types of journalists, it was posited, would offer the world a new image of Africa that doesn’t focus just on disease and wars.

The bishops also underlined the need for journalists to be able “to comment on the reality” of Africa in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
As of Thursday, 70 Synodal Fathers had addressed the hall, about one-third of the assembly, which is made up of 225 participants.
A “survey” that day showed that 111 bishops are participating for the first time in a synod, and that 46 were present in the first Special Assembly on Africa of the Synod of Bishop, which was held in 1994.
For the first time in a synod, there are no linguistic groups in Italian or Latin. The languages featured are French, English and Portuguese.
 [With reporting by Chiara Santomiero]

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