Pope's Address to Members of Media Association "Corallo"

«The greatest sins [of the media] are those that go on the path of darkness, of lies, and they are three: disinformation, calumny and defamation.»

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On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience  — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace — members of the “Corallo” [“Coral”] Association, a network of local broadcasting stations of Catholic inspiration, present in all the Italian regions. 

Following is a translation of the Pope’s address to the participants in the audience.

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I thank you so much for what you have said, and I thank you for the work you do. The truth … to seek the truth with the media. However, not only the truth! Truth, goodness and beauty, the three things together. Your work should unfold on these three paths: the path of truth, the path of goodness and the path of beauty. But truths, goodness and beauties that are consistent!  — which come from within, which are human. And, in the path of truth, in the three paths we can find mistakes, also traps. “I think, I seek the truth …”: be careful not to become an intellectual without intelligence. “I go, I seek goodness …”: be careful not to become an ethicist without goodness. “I like beauty …”: yes, but be careful not to do what is often done, to “doctor” beauty, to look for cosmetics to have an artificial beauty which doesn’t exist. Truth, goodness and beauty as they come from God and are in man. And this is the work of the media, your work. 

You have referred to two things, and I would like to take them up. First of all, the harmonious unity of your work. There is the great media and the smaller …. However, if we read chapter 12 of the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, we see that in the Church there is no great or small: each one has his function, his help to the other, the hand cannot exist without the head, and so on. We are all members, and your medias also, whether larger or smaller, are members, and harmonized for the vocation of service in the Church. No one must feel small, too small in relation to another who is too great. All are small before God, in Christian humility, but we all have a function. All! As in the Church …. I will ask this question: who is most important in the Church, the Pope or the little old woman who prays the Rosary every day for the Church? Let God say who it is, I can’t say it. But what is important is that everyone is in this harmony, because the Church is harmony in diversity. The Body of Christ is this harmony in diversity, and He who brings about the harmony is the Holy Spirit: He is the most important of all. This is what you have said, and I want to underline it. It is important: to seek unity, and not go by the logic that the big fish swallows the little one. 

You said another thing, which I also refer to in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. You spoke of clericalism. It is one of the evils; it is one of the evils of the Church. But it is an “accessory” evil, because priests like the temptation of clericalizing the laity, but so many lay people, kneeling, asked to be clericalized, because it is more convenient, more convenient! And this is a two-way sin. We must overcome this temptation. The layman must be a layman, baptized, he has the strength that comes from his Baptism. Servant, but with his lay vocation, and this is not sold, it is not negotiated, it is not an accessory to the other … No. I am like this! Because it goes with the identity. In my homeland, I have heard this so many times: “You know, in my parish I have a great layman: this man knows how to organize … Eminence, why don’t we make him a deacon?” The immediate proposal of the priest is to clericalize. Let’s make this layman … And why? Because the deacon, the priest is more important than the layman? No! This is the mistake! Is he a good layman? Let him continue to be so and grow so, because it goes with the identity of Christian membership. For me, clericalism hinders the growth of the layman. However, keep present what I have said: it is an “accessory” temptation between the two. Because there wouldn’t be clericalism if there weren’t laymen who want to be clericalized. Is this clear? Therefore, I thank you for what you do. Harmony: this, also, is another harmony, because the function of the layman can’t be done by the priest, and the Holy Spirit is free: sometimes He inspires the priest to do something, at other times He inspires the layman. There is talk in the Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Councils are so important: a parish – and here I quote the Code of Canon Law – a parish that does not have a Pastoral Council and a Council of Economic Affairs, is not a good parish: it lacks life. 

Then, there are so many virtues. I mentioned at the beginning: go by the path of goodness, of truth and of beauty, and there are so many virtues on these paths. However, there are also the sins of the media! I permit myself to speak a little about this. For me, the sins of the media, the greatest sins, are those that go on the path of darkness, of lies, and they are three: disinformation, calumny and defamation. These last two are grave, but not as dangerous as the first! Why? I will explain. Calumny is a mortal sin, but it can be clarified and one can come to know that it is a calumny. Defamation is a mortal sin, but one can come to say: this is an injustice, because this person did that thing at that time, then he repented, and changed his life. But disinformation is to say half of things, those which are more convenient, and not say the other half. And so, one who watches TV or who listens to the radio cannot make a perfect judgment, because he does not have the elements and they are not given to him. Please, flee from these three sins: disinformation, calumny and defamation. 

I thank you for what you do. I said to Monsignor Sanchirico to give you the address I had written: but his words [of the President] inspired me to say this to you spontaneously, and I have said it with a language of the heart: hear it this way. Not with the Italian language, because I don’t speak with Dante’s style! … Thank you so much. And now I invite you to pray an Ave Maria to Our Lady to give you the blessing. Ave Maria

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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