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Bishop Devine asks families to be discerning media consumers.  

In his national Pastoral letter for Communications Sunday (23 May) Bishop Joseph Devine, President of the Catholic Communications Commission will warn against a "couch potato" syndrome in TV viewing and urge parents to ration children's viewing, discuss programmes with them and occasionally just switch off for the sake of family unity. (Full text of letter below)  

The letter which will be read out at all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes this weekend marks the Catholic Church's "World Communications Sunday", which the Pope has themed; "The Media and the family: A risk and a richness".  

Bishop Devine suggests that "Children should be taught not to uncritically accept or imitate what they find in the media" adding "Parents should plan media use, limiting children s consumption, putting some media entirely off limits, making entertainment a family experience, and even periodically  
excluding all viewing for the sake of other family activities"  

In his letter the Bishop also draws attention to the recently launched Catholic Media Office "text Alerts" service a free news service which allows short messages to be sent to mobile phones.  

To promote the service the Catholic Media Office has distributed over 100,000 postcards to all Scotland's parishes urging mobile phone users to subscribe to the service and entering every subscriber in a competition to win a state of the art Nokia 3100 picture phone and talk time vouchers courtesy of Orange.  

Commenting on the "Text Alerts" service, Peter Kearney, Director of the Catholic Media Office said; "Using text messaging allows the Catholic church to communicate quickly and effectively, it will allows us to issue news alerts, run snap opinion polls and encourage the Catholic community to participate in polls and opinion surveys run by other media organisations."  
Mr Kearney added;  
"The service is free to the subscriber to receive messages and it will act as an additional communications tool, complementing our existing e-mail alerts service. To access the "Text Alerts" service, users simply send the text message SCMO to the following number: 84880. Users can also subscribe online at www.scmo.org by clicking on 'Text Alerts'."  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  




LETTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS SUNDAY 22nd/ 23rd MAY 2004  

In his letter for World Communications Sunday, 23 May 2004, Pope John Paul II warns against the corrosive influence on marriage and family life that the media can exert and urges parents to exert greater control over their own and their children s television viewing habits. It is timely advice.  


The increased availability of television and radio channels combined with an explosion in online media, has brought exceptional opportunities for enriching the lives not only of individuals, but also of families “ it also brings many new challenges arising from the varied and often contradictory messages presented by the mass media. The Pope describes this situation as a risk and a richness .  

Though we would all agree that parents need to regulate the  
use of media in the home it is often easier said than done! With a daily diet of soaps and drama full of storylines supporting; divorce, contraception, abortion and  
homosexuality filling our screens the need to plan and supervise family viewing is greater than ever. Here the Pope gives us some practical suggestions:  


· Even very young children should be taught important lessons about TV programmes, namely that they are produced by people anxious to communicate messages - to buy a product or to engage in dubious behaviour “ messages which are not always in the child s best interests  

· Children should also be taught not to uncritically accept or imitate what they find in the media.  

· Families should be outspoken in telling producers, advertisers, broadcasters and public authorities what they like and dislike becoming active rather than passive media consumers  

· Parents should plan media use, limiting children s consumption, putting some media entirely off limits, making entertainment a family experience, and even periodically excluding all viewing for the sake of other family activities.  


Above all we must remember that all communication has a moral dimension. People grow or diminish in moral stature by the words, which they speak, and the messages which they choose to hear. Professional communicators should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give families all possible encouragement, assistance, and support, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgment and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage and family life.  


Here in Scotland our Catholic Media Office aims to liaise with, monitor and comment upon the work of the Scottish media “ in these tasks, they need your support. If you would like to be kept informed of the work of the Media Office you can subscribe to their e-mail or text alerts service, both are free “ for more information please pick up a postcard as you leave.  


Finally, even as I thank you for your past support of the work of the Church in the field of communications on Communications Sunday, yet again I appeal for your financial support for that work in the coming year.  

May all those engaged in the field of communications recognize that they are in the words of the Pope, stewards and administrators of an immense spiritual power, meant to enrich the whole of the human community and may families always be able to find in the media a source of support, encouragement and inspiration as they strive to live as a community of life and love, to train young people in sound moral values, and to advance a culture of solidarity, freedom and peace.  


With every blessing,  

Yours devotedly,  

+Joseph Devine,  

President,  

National Communications Commission  

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