Mission of Catholic Journalists

A response to: Congress Address on Catholic Media and Controversy

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John Thavis’ address on «Ecclesial Communion and Controversy» captures very well the dilemma of the Catholic Media in the wake of the scandals within the Church. The questions he raises are important but they highlight only the prophetic stand that should or should not have been taken by the Catholic Media. There was another phenomenon that certainly deserved a highlight in his address: Catholic media as well as Catholics in secular media, whether out of ignorance or ill will, have, in the wake of the scandals, sometimes taken positions hostile to the Church’s interests.

It must be sincerely admitted that the Catholic reporting of scandals, perhaps sometimes in its desire to appear «objective» in the sense the secular media understands it, were not always free from bias, misinformation and half truths. By interviewing the «wrong» people and publishing their demoralizing statements against those in Church authority, some Catholic media have contributed to the atmosphere of disgust, and in some cases, even of dissent, within the Church.

Context, time frame, fairness and perspective — though often lacking in the secular media — can and should be marks of all good journalism, not just Catholic. The search for truth is the common pursuit of all journalists. But the distinctive trait of Catholic journalism, in my opinion, is the quest to pursue and communicate also that truth which comes from a order higher than the natural.

When this endeavor is informed by charity, the Catholic media and journalists will have found their true mission and vocation even in the most troubling of times. That, I believe, is exactly what Pope Benedict XVI was trying to communicate to the Catholic Press in his address on Oct 7, 2010.


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