ROME, May 31, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Though we are in an age of communication, there is growing incommunicability among people, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa says that using communication media to evangelize can help resolve the negative aspects related to the communication world. In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks of the problems caused by media and the secret for Catholics trying to help.
Q: What is your perception of mass media today?
Father Cantalamessa: The characteristic of our day and age, its most brilliant achievement and success, is information, in other words, mass communication: the press, cinema, television, Internet, cellphones.
Mass media are the great protagonists of the moment. Anyone can, at any time of day or night, find out what is going on in the world and establish direct contact with someone else at any point of the globe. All this is a sign of great progress and we ought to be grateful to God for the technology which has made it possible. However, there are serious dangers and negative aspects involved in social communications today.
Q; What exactly do you have in mind?
Father Cantalamessa: The means of communication are consumerist, in the sense that they encourage people to consume, and they are consumed and come to an end in themselves. Communication media are exclusively horizontal. People exchange their news items and, since we are ephemeral and transitory beings, news is equally ephemeral. Each item cancels out the previous one.
Along with an increase in communications, there is a growing experience of incommunicability. Communications are limited to sounds, to rumors. Rumors assure us that we are not alone; however, there is a lack of vertical, creative communication, a total absence of others. Communication media become a mirror reflecting the image of human misery and the echo of human emptiness.
In short, modern communication media convey sadness. The media place far more stress on the evil and tragic side of the world than on the good and positive aspects.
Q: What other risks do you see in mass media?
Father Cantalamessa: Mass media set before our eyes, at all times, what we could be and are not, what others do and we do not do. This gives rise to a feeling of resigned frustration and passive acceptance of one’s own fate or, on the contrary, to an obsessive urge to struggle out of anonymity and impose oneself on other people.
Another negative feature in mass communication, particularly in show business, is the exploitation of women, the abuse of their bodies and, in general, a negative view of the relationship between the sexes.
Q: Could you describe the characteristics of communications based on the Christian outlook, which could serve to offset the methods and content of today’s communication?
Father Cantalamessa: I think the Gospel can help us change this situation. It is the Good News of God’s love for mankind. God knows us perfectly well, but he does not use this knowledge to judge us. His correction is love.
I can say, as a Franciscan, that we must contribute to spreading hope and joy. Francis is the man of perfect happiness, God’s minstrel — not an illusory happiness, but a happiness based on hope. We have to insist on this ground of faith — deep union with Christ and, particularly, with Christ’s cross.
Q: So then, is there any secret to Catholic communications?
Father Cantalamessa: If we want to evangelize through mass media, the secret is quite simple: to be in love with Christ.