Church must " build on the renewed interest in our faith" following death of Pope John Paul II and harness the mass media in doing so, says Bishop Joseph Devine, President of the Catholic Church's National Communications Commission.
In a pastoral letter to mark World Communications Day on Sunday 8 May 2005 which will be read out in Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes, the Bishop says;
" the Church, has long recognised that it has a duty to use the media" and must in the words of Pope John Paul II," make every effort to meet the challenges faced by the new media technologies and to use them in the service of the Gospel truths".
In a reference to the media service provided by the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Bishop Devine said; " The demands placed on our media service in recent weeks have, as I am sure you can imagine, been enormous it is only with your support that we can continue to provide this service so valued by the media in Scotland and beyond. I appeal for your financial support towards that work and urge you to give generously today so that it may continue."
The full text of the letter is shown below.
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
0141 221 1168
World Communications Day - Sunday 8 May 2005
(To be read at all Masses 7/8 May 2005)
My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today the Catholic Church celebrates World Communications Day , not just across Scotland but also throughout the world. This day is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council. In 1963, that same Council published the Decree Inter Mirifica which set out the Church s view of the mass media.
In it, the Church recognised that the media can be of great service to humanity and can be in the words of the decree spread and support the Kingdom of God . The Church therefore has long recognised that it has a duty to use the media and asks the clergy to guide the faithful as media consumers. Lay people who work in the media, broadcasters, journalists, filmmakers and others are urged to uphold human dignity and to instil a human and Christian spirit into their work. Pope John Paul II underlined the responsibility they have only last year when he described those who work in the media industry as; stewards and administrators of an immense spiritual power, meant to enrich the whole of the human community
It is impossible to think of the Church s use of the global media in our own lifetimes, without recalling the immense contribution made by Pope John Paul II. His skills as a communicator were very evident to all those who read his many written works, listened to him speak, watched him on television or had the privilege of meeting him in person.
Despite failing health he urged the Church as recently as January this year, to make every effort to meet the challenges faced by the new media technologies and to use them in the service of the Gospel truths. In an Apostolic Letter, entitled The Rapid Development and published on 24 January 2005, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalists, Pope John Paul II said;
The appreciation of the media is not reserved only to those already adept in the field, but to the entire Church Community, pastors, above all, must assume this responsibility, everything possible must be done so that the Gospel might permeate society, stimulating people to listen to and embrace its message. The positive development of the media at the service of the common good is a responsibility of each and every one.
Prophetically, our late Pope spoke also in this letter of how the world of communications, was capable of unifying humanity and transforming it into “ ˜a global village . Less than three months later humanity was truly unified as the world watched the global media coverage of the death and funeral of John Paul II and the subsequent conclave to elect his successor Benedict XVI.
What we have witnessed in recent weeks has been the communications media at its best transmitting coverage of the life of the Church to communities across the globe. Fittingly, our new Pope, Benedict XVI in the first audience of his papacy just two weeks ago, welcomed members of the print and electronic media and thanked them for their arduous work in recent weeks covering the "important ecclesial events" that have taken place in Rome. The Pope added, the possibilities opened up for us by modern means of social communication are indeed marvellous and extraordinary!"
Here in Scotland our Catholic Media Office has been inundated with enquiries from reporters, broadcasters, photographers and the public all of whom have displayed a new found interest in the Church and its work. The demands placed on our media service in recent weeks have, as I am sure you can imagine, been enormous it is only with your support that we can continue to provide this service so valued by the media in Scotland and beyond. I appeal for your financial support towards that work and urge you to give generously today so that it may continue.
The challenge for the church is to build on the renewed interest in our faith and belief and to strive to make the Christian message available to all, remembering always the Gospel instruction;
Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to all mankind (Mk 16:15).
With every blessing,
National Communications Commission