Fr. Robert Prevost: New Evangelization Must Counter Distortion of Faith in Mass Media

Augustinian Prior General Addresses Synod of Bishops

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2012 ( Fr. Robert F. Prevost, Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine (Augustinians) addressed the Synod of Bishops yesterday in Vatican City during the Afternoon Session. Elected as Prior General in 2001, Fr. Prevost, who is from Chicago, Illinois, is currently serving his second six year term.

The Prior General of the Augustinians focused his intervention on the role of mass media in shaping «human imagination» regarding faith and ethics, particularly television and cinema. Fr. Prevost cited Western mass media as responsible for garnering sympathy «for beliefs and practices that are at odds with the Gospel.»

Fr. Prevost stated that while mass media retains such influence in society, it is only part of the problem. «The sympathy for anti-Christian lifestyle choices that mass media fosters is so brilliantly and artfully engrained in the viewing public, that when people hear the Christian message it often inevitably seems ideological and emotionally cruel by contrast to the ostensible humaneness of the anti-Christian perspective,» he said.

The head of the Augustinian order also stated that if the Church’s call for a New Evangelization is to counter the distortions of faith in the mass media, then those who are at the frontline must become more informed of the challenges of evangelizing with the present difficulties.

Citing the Fathers of the Church as examples of «masters of the art of rhetoric», Fr. Prevost said that there success in evangelization was because «they understood the foundations of social communication appropriate to the world in which they lived.»

Fr. Prevost concluded his intervention saying that it was insufficient for the Church to only own its own media channels. «The proper mission of the Church is to introduce people to the nature of mystery as an antidote to spectacle. Religious life also plays an important role in evangelization, pointing others to this mystery, through living faithfully the evangelical counsels,» he said.

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