Church and Communication


Vatican City: 50-years-ago this month (4 December 1963), the Conciliar Decree on the Instruments of Social Communication, « Inter Mirifica », was promulgated.

This special released by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications , , celebrates the anniversary with news, movie clips, details of events and other contributions relating to this important milestone in the Church's relationship with the world, through the various media. The Church has come a long way since that day in 1963, and within this site, you'll see that its journey was not always an easy one; nevertheless, no one now could doubt the value of overcoming those difficulties as the Church is now a key player in the world of online communications, all of which it offers wholly to the service of Christ and his people.  is offered in five languages . The site is divided into five languages ​​(English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese) will be enriched in real time all the news and events in the world by selecting the "news" the most significant.

Published in Attualitá

Saturday, 21 September 2013 -

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I am pleased to greet you and to thank you for your work in the important sector of social communications, but after having heard Monsignor Celli I feel I must remove the word "sector"...and instead refer to an important "ecclesial dimension". I wish to thank Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli for his kind words of greeting extended to me on your behalf. I would like to share some thoughts with you.

1. First: the importance that the Church attaches to the area of communication. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Conciliar Decree Inter Mirifica. This anniversary is more than a commemoration; the Decree expresses the Church's solicitude for communication in all its forms, which are important tools in the work of evangelization. There is a difference between these forms, that are functional means of communication, and communication itself which is something else entirely. In the last few decades the various means of communication have evolved significantly, but the Church's concern remains the same, though it assumes new ways of expression. The world of communications, more and more, has become an "environment" for many, one in which people communicate with one another, expanding their possibilities for knowledge and relationship (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the 2013 World Communications Day). I wish to underline these positive aspects notwithstanding the limits and the harmful factors that also exist and which we are all aware of.

2. In this context - and this is the second reflection - we must ask ourselves: what role should the Church have in terms of the practical means of communication at her disposal? In every situation, beyond technological considerations, I believe that the goal is to understand how to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today, to know how to engage this dialogue in order to appreciate their desires, their doubts and their hopes. They are men and women who sometimes feel let down by a Christianity that to them appears sterile and in difficulty as it tries to communicate the depth of meaning that comes with the gift of faith. We do in fact witness today, in the age of globalization, a growing sense of disorientation and isolation; we see, increasingly, a loss of meaning to life, an inability to connect with a "home" and a struggle to build meaningful relationships. It is therefore important to know how to dialogue and, with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses and encourages. Allow yourselves, without fear, to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment. A Church that follows this path learns how to walk with everyone. There is an ancient rule for pilgrims, which Saint Ignatius adopts, and which is why I know it! In one of his rules he says that the person accompanying the pilgrim must walk at his or her pace, not going on ahead or falling behind. In other words, I envisage a Church that knows how to walk with men and women along the path. The pilgrim's rule will help inspire us.

3. The third thought: this is a challenge which we must all face together in this environment of communications where the issues are not principally technological. We must ask ourselves: are we up to the task of bringing Christ into this area, or better still, of bringing others to meet Christ? Can we walk alongside the pilgrim of today's world as Jesus walked with those companions to Emmaus, warming their hearts on the way and bringing them to an encounter with the Lord? Are we able to communicate the face of a Church which is "home" to all? We sometimes speak of a Church that has its doors closed, but here we are contemplating much more than a Church with open doors, much more! We must, together, build this "home", build this Church, make this "home". A Church with closed doors or open doors; the task is to move forward and help build the Church. The challenge is to rediscover, through the means of social communication as well as by personal contact, the beauty that is at the heart of our existence and journey, the beauty of faith and of the beauty of the encounter with Christ. Even in this world of communications, the Church must warm the hearts of men and women. Do our presence and plans measure up to this requirement or do we remain technicians? We hold a precious treasure that is to be passed on, a treasure that brings light and hope. They are greatly needed. All this, however, means that priests, religious and laity must have a thorough and adequate formation. The great digital continent not only involves technology but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, their concerns and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful and good. We need to bring Christ to others, through these joys and hopes, like Mary, who brought Christ to the hearts of men and women; we need to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way; we need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the dreams, without being seduced; we need to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity (cf. Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 27 July 2013, n. 4). This is the path. This is the challenge.

It is important, dear friends, to bring the solicitude and the presence of the Church into the world of communications so as to dialogue with the men and women of today and bring them to meet Christ, but it is an encounter which is personal. It is not to be manipulated. Today there exists a great temptation in the Church which is a spiritual form of "abuse": to manipulate the mind; a sort of theological brainwashing which ultimately brings one to a superficial meeting with Christ but not to an encounter with the Person of Christ Alive! Within this encounter, there is the person and there is Christ. There is no room for the spiritual engineer who wishes to manipulate. This is the challenge: to bring the person to Christ. This must be done, however, in complete awareness that we ourselves are means of communication and that the real problem does not concern the acquisition of the latest technologies, even if these make a valid presence possible. It is necessary to be absolutely clear that the God in whom we believe, who loves all men and women intensely, wants to reveal himself through the means at our disposal, however poor they are, because it is he who is at work, he who transforms and saves us.

It is our prayer, the prayer of all, that the Lord may make us zealous and sustain us in the engaging mission of bringing him to the world. I ask you for your prayers because I too share this mission and I gladly assure you of my Blessing.

the Holy Father Francis

Published in Attualitá

Malawi - The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has entered into an evangelization partnership with Airtel Malawi to bring the gospel closer to people through Short Message Services (SMS).

ECM secretary general Fr. George Buleya confirmed the partnership during preparatory meeting for the Association Member of Episcopal Conference for East Africa (AMECEA) held recently in Lilongwe. The AMECEA meeting is scheduled for 2014 in Malawi.

"To join the service, the subscriber has to register with Airtel Malawi, and start receiving the messages by sending the key word to 51992. The subscriber will start receiving an SMS containing the Readings of the daily Liturgy, as well as a quotation from the Gospel. They will also have an opportunity of receiving current affairs news either from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi or the diocese/archdiocese with which he or she subscribed with," said Fr. Buleya adding that more details are given on

Pope Paul VI defined evangelization as 'bringing the Gospel into the social classes of humanity. The Pontifical Council of Social Communications announced on September 29 2012 that the Pope chose social networks as the theme for the Catholic Church's next World Communications Day.

One of the most important challenges facing the task of evangelisation today is that which is emerging from the digital environment. Pope Benedict XVI calls attention to this particular topic in the context of the Year of Faith...reads a statement communiqué from Vatican on next year's World Communications Day.

"Such an approach, which will serve to create a more dynamic and humane digital world, requires a new way of thinking. It is not simply a question of how to use the internet as a means of evangelisation, but instead of how to evangelise in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena," reads the statement.

The Second Vatican Council's 1963 decree "Inter Mirifica" called for the establishment of World Communications Day. The decree said the observance is intended to help teach the Catholic faithful how to "spread and defend the truth and foster Christian influence in human society."

Published in Attualitá
Saturday, 29 September 2012 00:00

World Communications Day 2013

One of the most important challenges facing the task of evangelization today is that which is emerging from the digital environment. Pope Benedict XVI calls attention to this particular topic, in the context of the Year of Faith, in his choice of the theme for the 47th World Communications Day, "Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization".

The theme suggests a series of important points for reflection. During a time in which technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences, such as relationships and knowledge, we need to ask: can it help men and women meet Christ in faith? It is not enough to find an adequate language, but rather, it is necessary to learn how to present the Gospel as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith, which has already found expression online.

Such an approach, which will serve to create a more dynamic and humane digital world, requires a new way of thinking. It is not simply a question of how to use the internet as a means of evangelization, but instead of how to evangelize in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena.

In particular, we need to be attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of the social networks, which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships.

World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council (Inter Mirifica, 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (May 12th in 2013).

The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24).

Published in Attualitá

( - Father Federico Lombardi SJ – the Director of Vatican Radio, the Vatican Press Office and the Vatican Television Centre – delivered the 2009 World Communications Day lecture in London. Speaking on May 21 2009 at Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea, Fr Lombardi spoke of the challenges and opportunities that the new media landscape presents the Church with – especially the Vatican.

The changes that have taken place in social communications during recent years and decades are obvious to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Communications experts in academia are constantly studying all the phenomena associated with these great changes, and are therefore best placed to discuss the broader picture in abstract generality.

However, I live these changes personally and concretely. I am immersed in the use of various communications media, and so also in their transformations.

I got my start in communications as a writer for La Civiltà Cattolica, a cultural review that continues to publish thoughtful analysis today, just as it did when it was founded 160 years ago. Then I was sent to work in radio, and then to a television production centre; my experience with these media introduced me to, and forced me to come to grips with, the rapid development of communications technology. In order to communicate the relevance of the Christian message to current events, I also had to grasp the ways in which these new technologies were affecting life in the newsroom and behind the editor's desk.

The advent of satellite distribution systems, particularly for radio, gave us the chance to bring Vatican Radio's linguistically diverse programming to vastly larger audiences across the world; the introduction of digital production profoundly changed the work methods and the professional profiles of both journalists and technicians. Then came the Internet, and with it new ways of gathering and exchanging information: instantaneous communication via email, and widespread, channelled content distribution on the web.

These past few years at the Vatican Press Office have shown me the need to look for ways to establish a more organic and constructive dialogue and exchange between the communications organs of the Holy See and today's world of social communications – for today's communications environment is rapidly becoming something vastly different from that which my generation first experienced it.

In April 2009, a document prepared by Microsoft entitled 'Europe Logs On: European Internet Trends of Today and Tomorrow', offered the following piece of information: if it continues to grow at the projected rate, then by June of 2010 internet use will surpass traditional television use among European consumers, reaching an average of more than 14 hours per week, to television's 11.5.

In 2008, the Internet surpassed all other media except television as the principal source of information for national and international current events. Its rise continues and seems unstoppable.

I consider myself interested in and responsible for many different vectors of communication in the Church – for communication to many different countries where a wide array of situations are to be encountered and where a broad spectrum of different circumstances obtain. I am well aware that in a large part of the world, communication happens in ways that are very different from those found in more developed countries. It is also true that even in the more developed countries, there are palpable differences that need to be taken into account. The document I just cited speaks of a 'digital divide', separating North from South as far as internet access and use is concerned.

From the Church's point of view, leaving those with fewer possibilities on the margins is simply not an option. For us, the poor and developing countries are at least as important as the wealthy, if not more. So, we cannot leave the traditional technologies and forms of communication by the wayside, for they are still necessary to serve a large part of humanity. At the same time, we cannot but be attentive to the direction in which communications are moving, nor can we allow ourselves to lose touch with the latest advancements in the world of communications.

Reflection and debate regarding the way the Church communicates both internally and externally – that is, with her members and with the larger world – have intensified recently, not only because of discussions about the Pope and the Church, but also because of the way those discussions were conducted. The coverage was widespread and just about every news outlet took an editorial stance at one point or another. Throughout it all, many different issues got confused, but no one can doubt that the whole business did raise some very real questions. It is our job to get to the bottom of those questions and then figure out something useful to say about them.


A first and obvious consideration regards the speed and intensity with which news spreads, especially sensational news. Internet communications have greatly increased both the speed with which the shockwaves spread, and their reach. Communication happens around the clock, 24/7. News no longer reaches people to the rhythm of the morning paper or the TV bulletins.

Additionally, the vast and ever-growing variety of voices makes it more and more difficult to attract people's attention, and this results in the tendency to sensationalise news, to 'spice up' the headlines. Many journalists and news outfits are endlessly searching for the next big scoop, as though getting it were the one thing that, in the midst of the great sea of words and images, can give their existence some sort of affirmation.

We are all aware of this situation, and we see the continuous risks, but we can't seem to understand how to fix it.

Let's consider more closely some recent cases, like Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg discourse, the Bishop Williamson affair, or the controversy over Pope Benedict XVI's statements regarding condoms and the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa.

Sensational reaction to each event came quickly, ranged broadly and penetrated deeply.

Answers to these critiques were not lacking. They came not only from me through the Press Office of the Holy See, but also from voices well-disposed to the Church. These responses, however, were neither as numerous nor as 'media-friendly' as the voices of the critics that occasioned them, and, though they were not overly slow in coming, they were nevertheless in a certain sense rather late, with respect to the surprise effect of the original shockwave.

Once the first wave of criticism had passed, though, people were able to do some hard thinking – and they did. The subsequent reflections were serious, penetrating and well-argued; it took a while for word of them to make its way through the communications channels and reach the public, but eventually the public did hear about and really benefit from these contributions to the discussion.

I am convinced that the question of Christian-Muslim relations has been addressed more frankly, more seriously and with greater depth after Regensburg than before; that the clamorous response to the declarations of Bishop Williamson not only allowed us to make the true positions of the Pope and the Church regarding the Holocaust to be more widely known and clearly understood, but also served to strengthen Catholic-Jewish relations and dialogue; that there is real hope that re-establishment of the conversation with the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre might lead to a deeper and more balanced reading of Vatican II in the direction of a hermeneutic of renewal in continuity with the Church's Tradition; that the debate over condoms is leading to greater understanding and awareness of what truly effective HIV/AIDS prevention strategy is in Africa and elsewhere.

I would like at this point to make something clear: I am not saying that everything we have done and are doing vis à vis Vatican communications is perfect. I do think, however, that in a world such as ours, we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that communication can always be carefully controlled, or that it can always be conducted smoothly and as a matter of course.

Is there any great institution or personality that, finding itself constantly in the limelight, is not the object of frequent criticism? We have dozens of ready examples in Presidents and Prime Ministers – why ought we to think that the Pope or the Church, in a secular world such as ours, ought to be an exception?

Whenever we face sensitive topics, we must inevitably proceed dialectically, from the statement of the position, to criticism, to a clearer and more penetrating response. It is a mistake to think that we ought to avoid debate. We must always seek to conduct debate in a way that leads to a better understanding of the Church's position, and we must never get discouraged.

We might add that the way such debates unfold is new, as well. Debate is no longer generally driven by the contributions of a few well-known, trusted and easily recognizable voices, for example the op-ed writers of the major newspapers. The chorus of voices that take part in debate over issues today is much larger and more diverse; the membership of that chorus transcends the traditional limits of language and culture, it is indeed international and even global.

So, we need to look further afield, and we also need to broaden our outlook. Today we approach the problem from the specific point of view of the Church, or of the Pope's image, or of the Christian truths we desire to proclaim. The problem, however, is not ours alone. It would be ridiculous to think so. It is a general problem, involving the family and the institutions of the state and civil society. The problem regards the ability to have and to maintain sound points of reference in the flow of communications in the world.

In seeking the right road for the Church, we are also looking for those roads, which might be interesting and useful for everyone.

Living in this world

We all live in the same world, and the Church teaches us to look on this world realistically – but She also teaches us to view the world with trust, and above all, with love.

The positive tone of the whole teaching of the Church on social communications is striking. Just look at the names of the magisterial documents: Miranda prorsus, Inter mirifica ('Among the wonderful'), Communio et progressio – even the message with which Pius XI inaugurated Vatican Radio in 1931 is full of expressions of trust in the ability of the radio to serve the cause of good in the world.

Inspired by this Magisterial teaching, we have always sought to make the best possible use of the available tools – the 'traditional' tools of communication, if you will – but now we find ourselves immersed in a new stage of our journey.

To be sure, we have to be aware of the risks and the ambiguities that attend this stage, the enormous potential for manipulation and moral corruption that are nested in modern social communications. As potential for use increases, so does the potential for misuse.

As we know unless we are naïve, the internet presents very grave risks, and poses crucial formative challenges that no one – not families, not schools, not society as a whole – may ignore. There is also great potential for good, and the Church's attitude encourages us to recognise this potential in its every manifestation, and to insert every good element possible into the wide world of communications, like the wheat that grows in the field along with the darnel.

The Pope's message for this year's World Day for Social Communications is in this sense an exemplary document and a rich source for reflection and encouragement. Titled, New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship, the message is driven by a fundamental strategic insight: the need to speak to 'the digital generation.'

The Pope knows that the Church will be an efficacious presence in the world that is taking shape only to the extent that She succeeds in keeping the truths of the faith in close touch with the emerging culture and the younger, growing generations. This is why he puts such emphasis on relationships: 'new technologies, new relationships.'

The whole world of social communications is concerned with relationships: among persons, groups, whole peoples – but just which relationships do we want to nurture and develop? What substance and to what end? In what spirit?

The impressive development of social networks, of content and information exchange, of the desire to comment on and intervene in every discussion of every topic, tells us that the internet has given rise to an omni-directional flow of transversal and personal communications, the scope of which was unimaginable until very recently.

One of the biggest challenges facing us at present is that of interactivity, and, I would say, of 'positive interactivity'. How ought we to tackle this challenge at all levels of the Church's life? For me specifically, the challenge presents itself to the communications efforts of the Holy See, and our experience at Vatican Radio comes to mind. In recent years the internet has been an important tool that has made it possible for us to deliver content to countless users of all kinds. Now, however, the reality of the situation that is emerging is one in which the great thing is not simply content distribution, but increasingly greater interactivity.

This is an extremely complex and difficult area that requires enormous commitment of all kinds of resources. Being able to receive comments is not enough: we need to develop a structural capacity to respond clearly and competently to the questions that arise, and that takes manpower, time and money.

At the end of January this year, in partnership with Vatican Radio and CTV (the Vatican Television Centre), we opened a YouTube channel with regular video news broadcasts in four languages. At Easter, we broadcast the whole of Pope Benedict XVI's Easter Message with complete subtitles in 27 different languages – that's a YouTube record, by the way! We are on our way towards an active Internet presence, though for the moment it is a basically one-directional presence, and will be until we understand the best way to establish interactive dialogue with our visitors.

For me, the problem is profound and serious – it is, in a certain sense, an ecclesiological problem. I mean to say that we at Vatican Radio and CTV worked hard to develop a successful strategy that integrated our Rome-based service with the Catholic TV and radio stations throughout the world. We built a network through which we provide information and programming that deal with the Church on a universal level, while regional and national Catholic stations provide coverage of their respective areas. We created a communications network that mirrors the structure of the Church and the various levels of service to the Church, from the Pope to the Bishops' Conferences to the diocesan level, always seeking to promote integration and dialogue while respecting the different levels of competence and responsibility.

Just as we began to congratulate ourselves on our success, the Internet came along and began destroying, or at least confusing this logic of distinction and complementarity of levels! Internet navigators move more freely in the global network and do not hesitate to speak directly to people and institutions on all levels, wherever they find them.

The offices of Chancellor Merkel and President Obama are working to develop Internet services aimed at responding to queries from individual citizens; several dioceses and Bishops' Conferences have similar initiatives. Should the Vatican, too, be working in this direction on a global level, and if so, how? How can we correctly promote the presence of the Pope in the life of the whole Church – that is, how can we use this technology to make his presence felt in the local Churches throughout the world without contributing to the creation or growth of a centralistic mentality that is not only inopportune, but at loggerheads with the right articulation and proper autonomy of the local Church? Deep down, I realise that the small step we have taken with YouTube is just the beginning of a long journey, and that our next steps must be taken with trust, and also with prudence.

We must not be of this world

In our service to the Church, we need to be constantly asking ourselves whether the limits and defects of our own communication skills in any given moment are making it more difficult for others to understand the Church's message, so that they reject it, or whether the message itself is being rejected even though it has been understood – or precisely because it has been understood.

We are called to be witnesses to God's love for humanity and for this world, but we cannot hide from the fact that the Gospel of Christ often becomes a sign of contradiction during the course of the vicissitudes of the world.

We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that a perfect communications strategy could ever make it possible for us to communicate every message the Church has to offer in a way that avoids contradiction and conflict. Truth be told, success in this sense would be a bad sign – at the very least, it would indicate ambiguity or compromise, rather than authentic communication.

I am convinced that in the present Pope and in his predecessor – and doubtless in others that came before them, as well, though I will speak of Benedict and John Paul II because I know them better – we have had and continue to have two eminent witnesses of the courage to speak the truth, to be oneself, and not to become enslaved to the desire for approval, which is one of the greatest idols of the modern world and of contemporary communications.

It is important to realise that many of the things the Church says – and that we should say if we would be faithful to Her – go against the grain. We need to hope that this is the case, not because we are outmoded or out of touch with the times in which we live, but because the Gospel of Christ is itself often against the grain.

To preach forgiveness in situations of hate and desperate conflict is against the grain. To preach a vision of human sexuality rooted in love and responsibility is against the grain.

To preach hope for a life beyond death to a world that is closed in on itself is against the grain, as is every concrete, everyday choice to live in faithfulness to Christ and His Church, a faithfulness founded on precisely that hope, which sees beyond death and yearns for eternal life.

Here we come to the very heart of communications in the Church, the heart of the Church's mission of communication to and for the world. The 'hard core' that is strong enough to resist the trials and travails of history, is the credibility of the Gospel message, the authoritative character of the message that comes from authentic witness to the faith in the lives of the faithful. I am convinced that much of the respect that John Paul II earned from the world and from professional communicators, was at the end of the day a consequence not so much of his charisma as it was of his personal credibility. He was long criticised as a conservative, a retrograde, the 'old Polish fellow' unwise to the ways of the modern world and modern ideas, but at the end he was respected as a man of courage and integrity, firmly rooted in his faith and able to bear personal witness to it through all the different trials he faced during his long life.

Pope Benedict XVI has a very different personality, but no one can doubt his integrity and his intellectual and spiritual coherence. From these come his courage unabashedly to take and to maintain positions that are unpopular for those who have embraced the dominant culture. Think of his recent letter to the bishops; it is a most personal and admirably courageous communication. He expresses himself in the first person, repeating and defending the priorities and the criteria of action that he has set out for his pontificate, and leaves no room for doubt that his choices, as a generous search for reconciliation, have their deepest inspiration from the Gospel.

A few weeks ago, a journalist asked me to share my thoughts on good and evil in communications. In particular, he asked me to identify the principal faces of evil in our work and in the flow of communications.

It is easy to paint the big picture. The hard part is recognising the real, concrete, individual cases and situations, and then to put people on their guard, especially those most susceptible to the blandishments or tricks of evil.

There is the classical face of falsehood, more or less explicit, and often mixed with half-truths, motivated by interests of different kinds. It always aims to deceive.

There is the face of pride, of self-referencing self-centeredness that despises his fellows and refuses to listen to other positions, but seeks always and only the absolute affirmation of the superiority of his own position.

There is the face of oppression and injustice, that would deny his fellows' freedom to gather information and give expression – the face of injustice that denies the voice of his fellows and so denies their basic human dignity and their rightful place in society.

There is the face of debauched sensuality that seeks to use and possess, and has respect neither for the body nor for the image of the other. This face expresses the materialistic hedonism that turns persons into brutes.

There is the face of escapism, which, seeking refuge in imaginary or virtual worlds, completely subverts the purpose of the new communications technologies, making them a source of isolation and slavery.

There is the face of division, that seeks to demolish dialogue, to undermine all efforts at mutual understanding among people of different creeds and cultures, and to set them against one another rather than to help them come together in genuine appreciation. This face becomes the face of conflict and war.

We need to learn to recognise these faces of evil for what they are, in order to make communications freely able to serve the good, that is, to further the construction of a culture of respect, of dialogue and friendship, and to place the immense potential of contemporary communications in the service of communion in the Church and of the unity of the whole human family.

Communication for communion: communicating with a view to unity.

This is the best expression I can find of my vocation as a communicator, of our vocation as communicators.

I have learned the need to discover ever anew the difficulties and the struggles of this vocation, and also the beauty and the greatness of it.

There is one precise moment that remains fixed in my memory, an unexpected illumination, in which, after many years, I understood the nature of the call to communicate.

There was a young people's prayer gathering in the Paul VI Audience Hall, in which an aged John Paul II was taking part. CTV had set up ten or so different two-way satellite links so that young people in other European cities could take part in the broadcast.

Watching the giant screen in the Hall, the Pope saw the various other gatherings; he heard the young people's greetings and greeted them in turn. We were all more than a little tense, owing to the complexity of the technical side of the operation – I remember because I was crammed in a tiny tech van with all my CTV colleagues and was sweating buckets.

At one point the Pope, with his characteristic spontaneity, said, 'What a marvellous thing is this television! I can see and speak with my young people in Krakow as though they were right here. Blessed be television!' I was stunned.

Think of all the terrible, awful things that television does, and now the Pope is calling it blessed! But he was right, of course. He sees further, for television really can create communion, it can allow the Pope and the whole Church, as it did that evening, to experience the joy of communion, and this is proof that television can be used for good, that it can truly be blessed! But this depends on us. We are the ones who must make television a source of blessing, and not leave it to become an instrument of corruption.

This, then, is my vocation – our vocation: we are called to make sure that the press, the radio and television are tools and paths toward blessedness. Now, I shall have to work more, all of us shall have to work even harder, so that every day it will be more and more true to say, and so that we might be able to say with greater and greater conviction: the internet is truly blessed!

Published in Contributi


Clementine Hall, Monday, 28 February 2011

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of the dicastery’s Plenary Assembly. I greet the President, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, whom I thank for his courteous words, and the Secretaries, the Officials, the Consultors and all the Personnel.

In this year’s Message for the World Day of Social Communications I asked the faithful to reflect on the fact that new technologies are not only changing the world of communication but are also bringing about a vast cultural transformation. A new way of learning and thinking is developing, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.

I would now like to reflect on the fact that thought and relation are always in the modality of language, meant of course in the broad sense, not only verbal. Language is not merely an interchangeable and temporary veneer; rather, it is the living, pulsating context in which human thoughts, anxieties and projects come to life and are patterned in gestures, symbols and words. The human being, therefore, does not only “use” but, in a certain sense, “dwells” in language.

Today, in particular, what the Second Vatican Council described as “marvellous technical inventions” (Inter mirifica, n. 1) are transforming the cultural environment and this requires specific attention to the languages that are developing in it.

The power of the new technologies “extends to defining not only what people will think but even what they will think about” (Aetatis Novae, n. 4). The new languages developing in digital communications determine among other things an intuitive and emotive rather than analytical ability, they are geared to a different logical organization of thought and of the relationship with reality, they frequently give priority to the image and to hypertextual connections. Then the traditional clear distinction between written and oral language seems to fade, giving way to written communication that takes the form and immediacy of the spoken word.

The dynamics proper to “participatory networks” further require that the person be involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves and their vision of the world: they become “witnesses” of what gives their life meaning.

The risks that are taken are of course visible to everyone; the loss of interiority, superficiality in living out relationships, escape into emotionality, the prevalence of the most convincing opinion over the desire for truth. Yet, these risks are the consequences of an inability to experience fully and authentically the meaning of the innovations. For this reason reflection on the languages developed by the new technologies is urgently necessary.

The starting point is the Revelation which bears witness to us of how, until his full manifestation of self in the Incarnate Son, God communicated his marvels precisely through language and the real experience of human beings, “according to the culture proper to each age” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 58).

Faith never fails to penetrate, enrich, exalt and invigorate culture; and culture, in its turn, becomes a vehicle of faith to which it offers the language for thinking and expressing itself. Hence, if we are to be attentive to God’s work in the world, we must listen attentively to the language of the people of our time.

In this context the work the Pontifical Council for Social Communications carries out in deepening the knowledge of “digital culture” is important. It stimulates and sustains reflection for a greater awareness of the challenges that lie in store for the ecclesial and civil communities. It is not only a matter of expressing the Gospel message in contemporary language; it is also necessary to have the courage to think more deeply — as happened in other epochs — about the relationship between faith, the life of the Church and the changes human beings are experiencing.

It is also the commitment to helping all those who have responsibilities in the Church to understand, interpret and speak the “new language” of the media in their pastoral duties (cf. Aetatis Novae, n. 2) and in dialogue with the contemporary world, asking themselves: what challenges does “digital thought” pose to faith and theology? What questions and requests?

The world of communications involves the entire cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person. If the new languages have an impact on the way of thinking and living, this in some way also concerns the world of faith and the understanding and expression of it. According to a classical definition theology means the understanding of faith and we know well that understanding, perceived as reflective and critical knowledge, is not alien to the cultural changes that are under way.

The digital culture presents new challenges to our ability to speak and listen to a symbolic language that talks about transcendence. In proclaiming the Kingdom Jesus himself knew how to use elements of the culture and environment of his time: the flock, tents, the banquet, seeds, and so forth. Today we are called to discover also in the digital culture symbols and metaphors which are meaningful to people and can be of help in talking about the Kingdom of God to contemporary man.

The fact that communication in the times of the “new media” entails an ever more usual relationship between the human being and machines, from the computer to cell phones, to mention only the most common, is also food for thought. What will be the effects of this constant relationship?

In former times Pope Paul vi, referring to the first plans for the automation of the linguistic analysis of the biblical text, pointed out a track for reflection when he asked himself: “Is not this effort to imbue in mechanical instruments the reflection of spiritual duties, ennobled and uplifted to a service which touches the sacred? Is it the spirit which is made a prisoner of matter or is it matter, already tamed and obliged to carry out laws of the spirit, which perhaps offers sublime deference to the spirit itself?” (Address at the Automation Centre of the Aloisianum, Gallarate, 19 June 1964). It is possible to discern in these words the profound link with the human spirit to which technology is called by vocation (cf. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, n. 69).

It is precisely the appeal to spiritual values that will make it possible to promote communication that is truly human: over and above every facile form of enthusiasm or scepticism, we know that it is a response to the call impressed upon our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of the God of communion.

For this reason biblical communion in accordance with God’s will is always linked to dialogue and to responsibility as, for example, the figures of Abraham, Moses, Job and the Prophets testify and never to linguistic seduction as, instead, is the case of the serpent, or of incommunicability and violence, as in the case of Cain.

The contribution of believers will then be of help to the world of the media itself by unfolding horizons of meaning and value that the digital culture alone can neither foresee nor portray.

To conclude, alongside many other communicators, I would like to remember Fr Matteo Ricci, the fourth centenary of whose death we celebrated. He was a protagonist of Gospel proclamation in China in the modern age. In his work disseminating Christ’s message, he always considered individual people and their cultural and philosophical context, values, and language, accepting everything positive to be found in his or her tradition, and offering to enliven and uplift it with the wisdom and truth of Christ.

Dear friends, I thank you for your service; I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary and, as I assure you of my prayers, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.

Published in Magisterio


From the Vatican, 24 January 2005, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

1. The rapid development of technology in the area of the media is surely one of the signs of progress in today’s society. In view of these innovations in continuous evolution, the words found in the Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Inter Mirifica, promulgated by my venerable predecessor, the servant of God Paul VI, December 4, 1963, appear even more pertinent: “Man’s genius has with God’s help produced marvelous technical inventions from creation, especially in our times. The Church, our mother, is particularly interested in those which directly touch man’s spirit and which have opened up new avenues of easy communication of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientations.”[1]

I. Fruitful Progress in the Wake of the Decree “Inter Mirifica”

2. More than forty years after the publication of that document, it appears appropriate to reflect on the “challenges” which the communications media constitute for the Church, which Paul VI said “would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means.”[2] In fact, the Church is not only called upon to use the mass media to spread the Gospel but, today more than ever, to integrate the message of salvation into the “new culture” that these powerful means of communication create and amplify. It tells us that the use of the techniques and the technologies of contemporary communications is an integral part of its mission in the third millennium.

Moved by this awareness, the Christian community has taken significant steps in the use of the means of communication for religious information, for evangelization and catechesis, for the formation of pastoral workers in this area, and for the education to a mature responsibility of the users and the recipients of the various communications media.

3. Many challenges face the new evangelization in a world rich with communicative potential like our own. Because of this, I wanted to underline in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio that the first Areopagus of modern times is the world of communications, which is capable of unifying humanity and transforming it into – as it is commonly referred to – “a global village”. The communications media have acquired such importance as to be the principal means of guidance and inspiration for many people in their personal, familial, and social behavior. We are dealing with a complex problem, because the culture itself, prescinding from its content, arises from the very existence of new ways to communicate with hitherto unknown techniques and vocabulary.

Ours is an age of global communication in which countless moments of human existence are either spent with, or at least confronted by, the different processes of the mass media. I limit myself to mentioning the formation of personality and conscience, the interpretation and structuring of affective relationships, the coming together of the educative and formative phases, the elaboration and diffusion of cultural phenomena, and the development of social, political and economic life.

The mass media can and must promote justice and solidarity according to an organic and correct vision of human development, by reporting events accurately and truthfully, analyzing situations and problems completely, and providing a forum for different opinions. An authentically ethical approach to using the powerful communication media must be situated within the context of a mature exercise of freedom and responsibility, founded upon the supreme criteria of truth and justice.

II. Gospel Reflection and Missionary Commitment

4. The world of mass media also has need of Christ’s redemption. To analyze with the eyes of faith the processes and value of communications, the deeper appreciation of Sacred Scripture can undoubtedly help as a “great code” of communication of a message which is not ephemeral, but fundamental for its saving value.

Salvation History recounts and documents the communication of God with man, a communication which uses all forms and ways of communicating. The human being is created in the image and likeness of God in order to embrace divine revelation and to enter into loving dialogue with Him. Because of sin, this capacity for dialogue at both the personal and social level has been altered, and humanity has had to suffer, and will continue to suffer, the bitter experience of incomprehension and separation. God, however, did not abandon the human race, but sent his own Son (Cf. Mk 12:1-11). In the Word made flesh communication itself takes on its most profound saving meaning: thus, in the Holy Spirit, the human being is given the capacity to receive salvation, and to proclaim and give witness to it before the world.

5. The communication between God and humanity has thus reached its perfection in the Word made flesh. The act of love by which God reveals himself, united to the response of faith by humanity, generates a fruitful dialogue. Precisely for this reason, making our own in a certain sense the request of the disciples, “teach us to pray” (Lk11:1), we can ask the Lord to help us to understand how to communicate with God and with other human beings through the marvelous communications media. In light of so decisive and definitive a communication, the media provide a providential opportunity to reach people everywhere, overcoming barriers of time, of space and of language; presenting the content of faith in the most varied ways imaginable; and offering to all who search the possibility of entering into dialogue with the mystery of God, revealed fully in Christ Jesus.

The Incarnate Word has left us an example of how to communicate with the Father and with humanity, whether in moments of silence and recollection, or in preaching in every place and in every way. He explains the Scriptures, expresses himself in parables, dialogues within the intimacy of the home, speaks in the squares, along the streets, on the shores of the lake and on the mountaintops. The personal encounter with him does not leave one indifferent, but stimulates imitation: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops,” (Mt 10:27).

There is, however, a culminating moment in which communication becomes full communion: the Eucharistic encounter. By recognizing Jesus in the “breaking of the bread,” (cf. Lk 24: 30-31), believers feel themselves urged on to announce his death and resurrection, and to become joyful and courageous witnesses of his Kingdom (cf. Lk 24:35).

6. Thanks to the Redemption, the communicative capacity of believers is healed and renewed. The encounter with Christ makes them new creatures, and permits them to become part of that people which he, dying on the Cross, has won through his blood, and introduces them into the intimate life of the Trinity, which is continuous and circular communication of perfect and infinite love among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Communication permeates the essential dimensions of the Church which is called to announce to all the joyful message of salvation. For this reason, the Church takes advantage of the opportunities offered by the communications media as pathways providentially given by God to intensify communion and to render more penetrating the proclamation of His word.[3] The media permit the manifestation of the universal character of the People of God, favoring a more intense and immediate exchange among local Churches, and nourishing mutual awareness and cooperation.

We give thanks to God for the presence of these powerful media which, if used by believers with the genius of faith and in docility to the light of the Holy Spirit, can facilitate the communication of the Gospel and render the bonds of communion among ecclesial communities more effective.

III. A Change of Mentality and Pastoral Renewal

7. In the communications media the Church finds a precious aid for spreading the Gospel and religious values, for promoting dialogue, ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation, and also for defending those solid principles which are indispensable for building a society which respects the dignity of the human person and is attentive to the common good. The Church willingly employs these media to furnish information about itself and to expand the boundaries of evangelization, of catechesis and of formation, considering their use as a response to the command of the Lord: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).

This is certainly not an easy mission in an age such as ours, in which there exists the conviction that the time of certainties is irretrievably past. Many people, in fact, believe that humanity must learn to live in a climate governed by an absence of meaning, by the provisional and by the fleeting.[4] In this context, the communications media can be used “to proclaim the Gospel or to reduce it to silence within men’s hearts.”[5] This poses a serious challenge for believers, especially for parents, families and all those responsible for the formation of children and young people. Those individuals in the Church community particularly gifted with talent to work in the media should be encouraged with pastoral prudence and wisdom, so that they may become professionals capable of dialoguing with the vast world of the mass media.

8. The appreciation of the media is not reserved only to those already adept in the field, but to the entire Church Community. If, as has already been noted, the communications media take into account different aspects of the expression of faith, Christians must take into account the media culture in which they live: from the Liturgy, the fullest and fundamental expression of communication with God and with one another, to Catechesis, which cannot prescind from the fact of being directed to people immersed in the language and the culture of the day.

The current phenomenon of communications impels the Church towards a sort of pastoral and cultural revision, so as to deal adequately with the times in which we live. 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.[6] Consecrated persons belonging to institutions having the charism of using the mass media have a particular responsibility in this regard. Spiritually and professionally formed towards this end, these institutions, “should willingly lend their help, wherever pastorally appropriate […] in order to offset the inappropriate use of the media and to promote higher quality programmes, the contents of which will be respectful of the moral law and rich in human and Christian values.”[7]

9. Such is the importance of the mass media that fifteen years ago I considered it inopportune to leave their use completely up to the initiatives of individuals or small groups, and suggested that they be decisively inserted into pastoral programs.[8] New technologies, in particular, create further opportunities for communication understood as a service to the pastoral government and organization of the different tasks of the Christian community. One clear example today is how the Internet not only provides resources for more information, but habituates persons to interactive communication.[9] Many Christians are already creatively using this instrument, exploring its potential to assist in the tasks of evangelization and education, as well as of internal communication, administration and governance. However, alongside the Internet, other new means of communication, as well as traditional ones, should be used. Daily and weekly newspapers, publications of all types, and Catholic television and radio still remain highly useful means within a complete panorama of Church communications.

While the content being communicated must obviously be adapted to the needs of different groups, the goal must always be to make people aware of the ethical and moral dimension of the information.[10] In the same way, it is important to assure that media professionals receive the necessary formation and pastoral attention to confront the particular tensions and ethical dilemmas that arise in their daily work. Often these men and women “sincerely desire to know and practice what is ethically and morally just,” and look to the Church for guidance and support.[11]

IV. The Mass Media, the Crossroads of the Great Social Questions

10. The Church, which in light of the message of salvation entrusted to it by the Lord is also a teacher of humanity, recognizes the duty to offer its own contribution for a better understanding of outlooks and responsibilities connected with current developments in communications. Especially because these influence the consciences of individuals, form their mentality and determine their view of things, it is important to stress in a forceful and clear way that the mass media constitute a patrimony to safeguard and promote. The communications media must enter into the framework of organically structured rights and duties, be it from the point of view of formation and ethical responsibility, or from reference to laws and institutional codes.

The positive development of the media at the service of the common good is a responsibility of each and every one.[12] Because of the close connections the media have with economics, politics and culture, there is required a management system capable of safeguarding the centrality and dignity of the person, the primacy of the family as the basic unit of society and the proper relationship among them.

11. We are faced with three fundamental options: formation, participation and dialogue.

In the first place, a vast work of formation is needed to assure that the mass media be known and used intelligently and appropriately. The new vocabulary they introduce into society modifies both learning processes and the quality of human relations, so that, without proper formation, these media run the risk of manipulating and heavily conditioning, rather than serving people. This is especially true for young people, who show a natural propensity towards technological innovations, and as such are in even greater need of education in the responsible and critical use of the media.

In the second place, I would like to recall our attention to the subject of media access, and of co-responsible participation in their administration. If the communications media are a good destined for all humanity, then ever-new means must be found – including recourse to opportune legislative measures – to make possible a true participation in their management by all. The culture of co-responsibility must be nurtured.

Finally, there cannot be forgotten the great possibilities of mass media in promoting dialogue, becoming vehicles for reciprocal knowledge, of solidarity and of peace. They become a powerful resource for good if used to foster understanding between peoples; a destructive “weapon” if used to foster injustice and conflicts. My venerable predecessor, Blessed John XXIII, already prophetically warned humanity of such potential risks in the Encyclical, Pacem in Terris.[13]

12. The reflection upon the role “of public opinion in the Church,” and “of the Church in public opinion” aroused great interest. In a meeting with the editors of Catholic publications, my venerable predecessor, Pius XII, stated that something would be missing from the life of the Church were it not for public opinion. This same idea has since been repeated on other occasions[14], and in the Code of Canon Law there is recognized, under certain conditions, the right to the expression of one’s own opinion.[15] While it is true that the truths of the faith are not open to arbitrary interpretations, and that respect for the rights of others places intrinsic limits upon the expression of one’s judgments, it is no less true that there is still room among Catholics for an exchange of opinions in a dialogue which is respectful of justice and prudence.

Communication both within the Church community, and between the Church and the world at large, requires openness and a new approach towards facing questions regarding the world of media. This communication must tend towards a constructive dialogue, so as to promote a correctly-informed and discerning public opinion within the Christian community. The Church, like other institutions and groups, has the need and the right to make its activities known. However, when circumstances require, it must be able to guarantee an adequate confidentiality, without thereby prejudicing a timely and sufficient communication about Church events. This is one of the areas in which collaboration between the lay faithful and Pastors is most needed, as the Council appropriately emphasized, “A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world”.[16]

V. To Communicate with the Power of the Holy Spirit

13. The great challenge of our time for believers and for all people of good will is that of maintaining truthful and free communication which will help consolidate integral progress in the world. Everyone should know how to foster an attentive discernment and constant vigilance, developing a healthy critical capacity regarding the persuasive force of the communications media.

Also in this field, believers in Christ know that they can count upon the help of the Holy Spirit. Such help is all the more necessary when one considers how greatly the obstacles intrinsic to communication can be increased by ideologies, by the desire for profit or for power, and by rivalries and conflicts between individuals and groups, and also because of human weakness and social troubles. The modern technologies increase to a remarkable extent the speed, quantity and accessibility of communication, but they above all do not favor that delicate exchange which takes place between mind and mind, between heart and heart, and which should characterize any communication at the service of solidarity and love.

Throughout the history of salvation, Christ presents himself to us as the “communicator” of the Father: “God, in these last days, has spoken to us through his Son” (Heb 1:2). The eternal Word made flesh, in communicating Himself, always shows respect for those who listen, teaches understanding of their situation and needs, is moved to compassion for their suffering and to a resolute determination to say to them only what they need to hear without imposition or compromise, deceit or manipulation. Jesus teaches that communication is a moral act, “A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12: 35-37)

14. The apostle Paul has a clear message for those engaged in communications (politicians, professional communicators, spectators), “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another… No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Eph 4: 25, 29).

To those working in communication, especially to believers involved in this important field of society, I extend the invitation which, from the beginning of my ministry as Pastor of the Universal Church, I have wished to express to the entire world “Do not be afraid!”

Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank “among the marvelous things” – inter mirifica which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom.

Do not be afraid of being opposed by the world! Jesus has assured us, “I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33)

Do not be afraid even of your own weakness and inadequacy! The Divine Master has said, “I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). Communicate the message of Christ’s hope, grace and love, keeping always alive, in this passing world, the eternal perspective of heaven, a perspective which no communications medium can ever directly communicate, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9).

To Mary, who gave us the Word of life, and who kept his unchanging words in her heart, do I entrust the journey of the Church in today’s world. May the Blessed Virgin help us to communicate by every means the beauty and joy of life in Christ our Savior.

To all I give my Apostolic Blessing!

From the Vatican, 24 January 2005, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalists.



[1] No. 1.

[2] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelio Nuntiandi (December 8th, 1975): AAS 68 (1976), 45.

[3] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (December 30 th , 1988), 18-24: AAS 81 (1989), 421-435; cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pastoral Instructive Ae tatis Novae (February 22 nd , 1992), 10: AAS 84 (1992), 454-455.

[4] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (September 14 th , 1998), 91: AAS 91 (1999), 76-77.

[5] cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pastoral Instructive Ae tatis Novae (February 22 nd , 1992), 4: AAS 84 (1992), 450.

[6] Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Gregis, 30: L’Osservatore Romano, October 17 th , 2003, p. 6.

[7] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata (March 25 th , 1996), 99: AAS 88 (1996), 476.

[8] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Missio (December 7 th , 1990), 37: AAS 83 (1991), 282-286.

[9] Cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, The Church and Internet (February 22 nd , 2002), 6: Vatican City, 2002, p. 13-15.

[10] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Inter Mirifica, 15-16; Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pastoral Instructional Communio et Progressio (May 23 rd , 1971), 107: AAS 63 (1971), 631-632; Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pastoral Instructional Aetatis Novae (February 22 nd , 1992), 18: AAS 84 (1992), 460.

[11] Cf. Ibid., 19: l.c.

[12] Cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, num. 2494.

[13] Cf. John Paul II, Message for the 37 th World Communications Day (January 24 th , 2003): L’Osservatore Romano, January 25 th , 2003, p. 6.

[14] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Lumen Gentium, 37; Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio (May 23 rd , 1971), 114-117: AAS 63 (1971), 634-635.

[15] Can. 212, §3: According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

[16] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Lumen Gentium, 37.

Unofficial translation of the Pontifical Council


Published in Magisterio


Saturday, 23 April 2005 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is a pleasure to meet with you and I cordially greet you, journalists, photographers, television technicians and all those who, in various sectors, belong to the world of communications. Thank you for your visit and especially for the service that you have provided to the Holy See and the Catholic Church throughout these days. I cordially greet Archbishop John Patrick Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all who are present.

It can be said that, thanks to your work, the attention of the entire world has been fixed for some weeks now on the Basilica, on St Peter's Square and on the Apostolic Palace, the latter where my Predecessor, the unforgettable Pope John Paul II, peacefully ended his earthly existence, and where afterwards, in the Sistine Chapel, the Cardinals elected me as his Successor.

2. Thanks to all of you, these historically important ecclesial events have had worldwide coverage. I know how hard you have worked, far away from your homes and families, for long hours and in sometimes difficult conditions. I am aware of the skill and dedication with which you have accomplished your demanding task. In my own name, and especially on behalf of Catholics living far from Rome, who were able to participate in these stirring moments for our faith as they were taking place, I thank you for all you have done. The possibilities opened up for us by modern means of social communication are indeed marvellous and extraordinary!

The Second Vatican Council spoke of the great potential of the media. In fact, the Council Fathers devoted their first Document to this theme, and said that the media, "by their nature, are capable of reaching and influencing not only individuals, but whole masses of people, indeed the whole of humanity" (Inter Mirifica, n. 1). Ever since 4 December 1963, when the Decree Inter Mirificawas promulgated, humanity has been witnessing an extraordinary media revolution, affecting every aspect of human life.

3. Fully aware of her mission and the importance of the media, the Church, especially beginning with the Second Vatican Council, sought out collaboration with the world of social communications. Certainly, John Paul II was a great pioneer of this open and sincere dialogue, together with you, workers in the field of social communications, with whom he maintained constant and fruitful relations throughout the more than 26 years of his Pontificate. And it was precisely to those responsible for social communications that he wished to dedicate one of his last Documents, the Apostolic Letter of 24 January, which calls to mind that "ours is an age of global communication in which countless moments of human existence are either spent with, or at least confronted by, the different processes of the mass media" (Rapid Development, n. 3).

It is my desire to continue this fruitful dialogue, and in this way I share an observation made by John Paul II: "The current phenomenon of communications impels the Church towards a sort of pastoral and cultural revision, so as to deal adequately with the times in which we live" (ibid., n. 8).

4. The responsible contribution of each and every one is needed, so that instruments of social communication can provide a positive service to the common good. An ever better understanding of the perspectives and responsibility that their development involves becomes necessary with regard to the influences which, as a matter of fact, can be ascertained on the conscience and mentality of individuals and on the formation of public opinion. Those who thus work in this field must be given clear indications of their ethical responsibility, especially regarding the sincere search for truth and protection of the centrality and dignity of the person. Only with these conditions are the media able to respond to the design of God, who placed them at our disposal "to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom" (ibid., n. 14). 

5. Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you again for the important service that you provide to society. I extend to each one of you my cordial appreciation with the assurance of a remembrance in my prayer for all your intentions. I extend my greeting to your families and to all who belong to your work community. Through the intercession of the heavenly Mother of Christ, I invoke abundantly upon each of you the gifts of God, through whom I impart my Blessing to all.


Published in Magisterio






ALBERTO BOVONE Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia              


March 30, 1992 


The Second Vatican Council reminds us that among the principal duties of Bishops "the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place" (Lumen Gentium, 25). This is in keeping with the mission given by the Lord to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mt28:19).

The social communications media surely have to be counted among the most effective instruments available today for spreading the message of the Gospel. Not only does the Church claim the right to use them (cf. can. 747); she also encourages Bishops to take advantage of them in fulfilling their mission (cf. can. 822, §1 ).

The decree of the Second Vatican Council, Inter Mirifica, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications' pastoral instructions, Communio et Progressio and Aetatis Novae, have already given full treatment to the importance of the social communications media and their place in light of the Church's mission to evangelize. Mention likewise should be made of the "Guide to the Training of Future Priests concerning the Instruments of Social Communication" issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The new Code of Canon Law also deals with the instruments of social communication (can. 822-832) and entrusts their care and supervision to the Bishops. Religious superiors, especially major superiors, also have specific responsibilities in this regard by virtue of their disciplinary authority.

The difficulties encountered for various reasons by those who are called to the care and supervision of the media are well known. Still, erroneous ideas are becoming ever more widespread due to the social communications media in general and the publication of books in particular. With the publication of its Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian on May 24, 1990, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offered from the doctrinal perspective an outline of the responsibilities Bishops have with regard to the authentic magisterium. In accordance with its mission to promote and defend the Church's teaching on faith and morals, this same Congregation has judged it good to issue the present Instruction, which has been prepared in agreement with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and after due consultation with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The Instruction sets forth the pertinent legislation of the Church in an organic fashion. Its aim is to give encouragement and help to the Bishops in the fulfilment of their obligations (cf. can. 34) by calling to mind the norms of canon law, explaining their various provisions, and defining and making explicit the processes by which they are implemented.

The norms of canon law guarantee the freedom of all: whether it be the individual Christian faithful who have a right to receive the Gospel message in all its integrity and purity or those engaged in pastoral work, theologians, and all Catholics engaged in journalism who have the right to communicate their thought while maintaining the integrity of the faith and the Church's teaching on morals and due respect for the Bishops. By the same token, civil laws regarding the dissemination of information should protect and foster the right of all who use the social communications media to a truthful presentation of the facts. They likewise assure journalists in general of the right to communicate their thought within the limits of a professional code of ethics which also has concern for the way in which religious topics are handled.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is aware of the difficult conditions under which theologians, those engaged in pastoral work, Catholic journalists, and journalists in general must labour in the fulfilment of their tasks. Thus it feels it right here to express a particular word of esteem and appreciation to them for the contribution they make with their efforts in this field.


1. The responsibility of instructing the faithful

1. Bishops, in as much as they are authentic teachers of the faith (cf. can. 375 and 753), must take care to instruct the faithful concerning the right and duty they have to:

a) "work so that the divine message of salvation may increasingly reach the whole of humankind in every age and in every land" (can. 211);

b) make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires to the pastors of the Church(cf. can. 212, §2 );

c) manifest to the pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church (cf. can. 212, §3 );

d) make their own opinion as to what pertains to the good of the Church known to others of the Christian faithful "with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons" (can. 212, §3).

2. The faithful are also to be instructed in their duty to:

a) "maintain always, even in their own patterns of activity, communion with the Church" (can. 209, §1 ; cf. can. 205);

b) "follow by Christian obedience what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church" (can. 212, §1 );

c) observe due respect for the magisterium of the Church if they are engaged in the sacred disciplines even while they enjoy a lawful freedom of inquiry and of prudently expressing their opinions on matters in which they have expertise (cf. can. 218);

d) cooperate so that the use of the instruments of social communication is animated with a human and Christian spirit (cf. can. 822,§2 ) in such a way that "the Church effectively fulfils her responsibility through such instruments" (can. 822, §3).

2. Responsibilitles regarding written works and the use of the media of social communication

In the context of their duty to watch over the deposit of faith and preserve it intact(cf. can. 386 and 747, §1) and to satisfy the faithful's right to guidance in the way of sound doctrine (cf. can. 213 and 317), the Bishops also have the right and duty to:

a) "be vigilant lest harm be done to the faith or morals of the Christian faithful through writings or the use of the instruments of social communication" (can. 823, §1);

b) "demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement" (can. 823, §1);

c) "denounce writings which harm correct faith or good morals" (can. 823, §1);

d) apply, as the case requires, those administrative and penal sanctions provided for in the Church's law to those who by infringement of the canonical norms abuse their proper office, constitute a danger to ecclesiastical communion, or do harm to the faith and morals of the faithful (cf. can. 805; 810, §1; 194, §1, n. 2; 1369; 1371, 1; 1389).

3. The obligation to take action with the proper means

The moral and juridical instruments provided for by the Church are placed at the disposal of the Bishops for the safeguarding of faith and morals. Only if the Church's pastors were to fail in their obligations could they neglect these instruments when the good of souls calls for and recommends them. Bishops should maintain continual contact with the cultural and theological world of their respective dioceses. In this way, any difficulties arising may be quickly resolved through a fraternal dialogue which provides the interested parties with an opportunity to make the needed clarifications. In following the procedures of canon law, disciplinary measures would be the last means to be applied (cf. can. 1341), although it should not be forgotten that for the sake of good order in the Church the application of penalties proves necessary in certain cases (cf. can. 1317).

4. Particular responsibilities of Diocesan Bishops

With due respect for the competence of the Holy See (cf. Apost. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 48, 50-52) and that of Episcopal Conferences and Particular Councils (cf. can. 823, §2), Bishops, in as much as they are pastors and the ones primarily responsible for correct teaching about faith and morals (cf. can. 386; 392; 753; and 756, §2), should make timely if prudent exercise of their right and duty of vigilance within their own diocese and proper jurisdiction. In fulfilling his responsibility, the Bishop will also call the matter, when necessary, to the attention of the Episcopal Conference or Particular Councils or to the Holy See itself through the competent dicastery (cf. can. 823, §2).

5. The assistance of Doctrinal Commissions

§ 1. Doctrinal commissions, whether on the diocesan or Episcopal Conference level, should be a great help to Bishops. The work of such commissions should be followed and encouraged because of the invaluable aid which they can offer the Bishops in the fulfilment of their teaching mission (cf. the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed to the presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences on November 23, 1990).

§ 2. The collaboration of people and institutions, such as seminaries, universities, and ecclesiastical faculties, should also be sought. When they have the required competence in their disciplines and are faithful to the Church's teaching, these too can make a contribution to the Bishops in the fulfilment of their duties.

6. Communion with the Holy See

Bishops should maintain contact with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and in particular with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. can. 360; Apost. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 48-55). To the doctrinal Congregation should be referred those questions exceeding the Bishops' competence (cf. Apost. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 13 ) or which for any reason indicate the appropriateness of action by or consultation with the Holy See. The Bishops should also convey to the Congregation all that has doctrinal relevance to the question, whether this be seen in a positive or negative light, along with their suggestions as to possible courses of action.


7. The requirement of approval or permission

§1. Either approval or permission is required by the Code for certain kinds of publications.

a) In particular, prior approval is needed for the publication of books of the Sacred Scriptures and translations of them into the vernacular languages (cf. can. 825, §1), for catechisms and other writings dealing with catechetical formation (cf. can. 775, §2; 827, §1), for textbooks dealing with those disciplines that touch on faith or morals and on which instruction is based in elementary, middle, and also higher schools (cf. can. 827, §2).

b) Prior permission is required, on the other hand, for the Christian faithful to prepare and publish translations of the Sacred Scriptures in collaboration with separated brothers and sisters (cf. can. 825, §2), for prayer books intended for public or private use (cf. can. 826, §3), for new editions of collections of decrees or acts issued by ecclesiastical authority (cf. can. 828), for what is written by clerics and members of religious institutes for newspapers, magazines, or periodicals which are accustomed to attack openly the Catholic religion or good morals (cf. can. 831, §1), for the publication of writings by members of religious institutes which deal with questions of religion or morals (cf. can. 832).

§2. Eccesiastical approval or permission presupposes that the censor or censors, if more than one is considered appropriate (cf. can. 830), found nothing objectionable; it guarantees that the writing in question contains nothing contrary to the Church's authentic magisterium on faith or morals; and it attests that all the pertinent prescriptions of canon law have been fulfilled. It is appropriate, then, that in the act of granting the approval or permission itself explicit reference be made to the relative canon.

8. Writings for which it is appropriate that the Local Ordinary give his judgement

§1. The Code recommends that books which deal with matters of Sacred Scripture, theology, canon law, church history, or religious or moral disciplines be submitted to the judgement of the local Ordinary even if they are not employed as textbooks for teaching; the same is true for writings in which something is found of special concern to religion or to good moral behaviour (cf. can. 827, §3).

§2. The diocesan Bishop, by virtue of his right to guard faith and morals in their integrity, could, if there were particular specific reasons, even require by an individual precept (cf. can. 49) that such writings be submitted to his judgement. In fact, can. 823, §1 accords Bishops the right to "demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement." No limitation is placed on this right save one of a general order, so that "the integrity of the truths of the faith and morals be preserved." Such a precept could be imposed with regard to particular cases involving either individual persons or categories of persons (clerics, members of religious institutes, Catholic publishing houses, etc.) or with regard to specific subject matters.

§3. In cases like these, ecclesiastical permission also carries the sense of an official declaration guaranteeing that the writing in question contains nothing contrary to the integrity of faith and morals.

§4. If a writing contained opinions or questions which are specialized or in the domain of a particular expertise and when it could cause scandal or confusion only in certain places or among certain people and not elsewhere, permission might be granted under specific conditions which would affect the way it is to be published or the language but which, in any case, would make it possible to avoid the dangers involved.

9. Extending approval or permission

The approval or permission to publish some work applies only to the original text; this cannot be extended to new editions or translations of the same work (cf. can. 829). A simple reprinting of a work is not considered to be a new edition.

10. The right to approval or permission

§1. Ecclesiastical permission constitutes both a juridical and a moral guarantee for the authors, the publishers and the readers. Thus, whether permission is required or only recommended, when a person requests it, he has a right to receive an answer from the competent authority.

§2. The examination preceding the granting of permission calls for the greatest of care and seriousness with consideration given both to the rights of the authors (cf. can. 218) and those of all the faithful (cf. can. 213, 217).

§3. When permission or approval is denied, administrative recourse in accordance with can. 1732-1739 can be had to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the dicastery competent for such questions (cf. Apost. Const. Pastor Bonus, 48).

11. The competent authority for granting approval or permission

§1. According to the norm of can. 824, the competent authority for granting approval or permission is either the proper local Ordinary of the author or the Ordinary of the place in which the work is to be published.

§2. If permission is denied by one local Ordinary, recourse may be had to the other competent Ordinary. There is the obligation, nonetheless, to make the fact of the prior refusal of permission known. The second Ordinary is not to grant permission without having learned from the first Ordinary his reasons for denying it (cf. can. 65, §1).

12. The procedure to be followed

§1. Before giving permission, the Ordinary should submit the writing in question to the judgement of people he holds as reliable. It may be that he chooses them from a list compiled by the Episcopal Conference or he may consult the commission of censors, if one has been established in accordance with the norm of can. 830, §1. In giving his judgement, the censor should follow the criteria given in can. 830, §2.

§2. The censor should give his judgement in writing. If the judgement is favourable, the Ordinary should give the permission in his own name, detailing the date and place it was granted. If he were to judge, however, that granting permission is not opportune, he should communicate the reasons for this to the author (cf. can. 830, §3).

§3. Relations with authors should always be carried on in a constructive spirit of respectful dialogue and eclesial communion so that ways may be found to ensure that nothing contrary to the Church's doctrine comes to be published.

§4. Information concerning the granting of permission should be printed in a place readily noted in the books which are published. Thus, it is not sufficient to use the formula "with ecclesiastical approval" or something similar; the name of the Ordinary who gives his permission as well as the date and place in which it was given ought to appear in print (cf. the authentic interpretation of can. 830, §3: AAS 79 [1987], 1249).

13. Permission to write for the various communications media

The local Ordinary should give careful consideration whether and in what circumstances permission might be granted to clerics or religious to write for newspapers, magazines or periodicals which are accustomed to attack openly the Catholic religion or good morals (cf. can. 831, §1).


14. The commitment and cooperation of all

The Christian faithful who are employed in the publishing trade, which here includes the sale and distribution of written works, have, in accordance with their specific tasks, a proper and particular responsibility for the promotion of sound doctrine and good morals. They are not only bound, therefore, to avoid cooperating in the distribution of works contrary to faith and morals but they should make positive efforts towards the dissemination of written works which contribute to the human and Christian welfare of their readers (cf. can. 822, par§2-3).

15. Publishing houses under the sponsorship of Catholic institutions

§1. Publishing concerns sponsored by Catholic institutions (dioceses, religious institutes, Catholic associations, etc.) have a particular responsibility in this area. In consideration of the special link they have with ecclesiastical authority, their activities should be conducted in harmony with the Church's doctrine, in communion with her Bishops, and in conformity with her laws. Catholic publishers are not to issue works which do not have the prescribed ecclesiastical permission.

§2. Publishing houses sponsored by Catholic institutions ought to be an object of particular concern for local Ordinaries so that their publications always conform to Church teaching and make an effective contribution to the good of souls.

§3. Bishops have an obligation to prevent the sale and display in their churches of publications which deal with questions of religion or morals and have not received the permission or approval of Church authority (cf. can. 827, §4).


16. General principles

§1. Religious superiors cannot be considered authentic teachers of the faith in a proper sense and they are not, strictly speaking, pastors. They do, however, possess a power which comes from God through the ministry of the Church (cf. can. 618).

§2. Apostolic action on the part of religious institutes is to be exercised in the name and by the mandate of the Church and should be carried out in communion with her (cf. can. 675, §3). The prescription of can. 209, §1 on the obligation which all the Christian faithful have always to maintain communion with the Church in their patterns of activity has particular application in the case of religious. Can. 590 gives a reminder to institutes of consecrated life regarding their special subjection to the supreme authority of the Church and the bond of obedience which binds their individual members to the Roman Pontiff.

§3. Along with the local Ordinary, religious superiors have the responsibility of granting permission for the publication of writings dealing with questions of religion or morals by members of their institutes (cf. can. 824 e 832).

§4. All superiors, especially those who are Ordinaries (cf. can. 134, §1), are obliged to take care that within their institutes ecclesiastical discipline is followed also as regards the instruments of social communication. If abuses emerge, they are to insist upon its application.

§5. Religious superiors, especially those whose institutes are dedicated precisely to the apostolate of the press and the social communications media, should see to it that their members faithfully follow the pertinent norms of canon law. They should give special attention to publishing houses, book stores, etc. associated with the institute, to encourage their being faithful and effective vehicles for the Church and her magisterium.

§6. Religious superiors should cooperate with diocesan Bishops (cf. can. 678, §3); it may be that such cooperation is even formalized through written agreements (cf. can. 681, par§1-2).

17. Permission of the religious superior

§1. The religious superior, who in accordance with can. 832 is competent to grant his own religious members permission to publish writings dealing with questions of religion or morals, should not proceed to do so until he has the prior judgement of at least one censor he considers reliable and is satisfied that the work does not contain anything which might be harmful to the doctrine of the faith or morals.

§2. The superior can require that his permission precede that of the local Ordinary and that explicit mention of the fact be made in the publication.

§3. This permission can be given in a general fashion when it is a question of an ongoing collaboration in the publication of periodical literature.

§4. It is particularly important that in this area too there be good cooperation between local Ordinaries and religious superiors (cf. can. 678, §3).

18. Religious publishing houses

What has been said in general about publishing houses sponsored by Catholic institutions is applicable in the case of publishing houses sponsored by religious institutes. Their publishing efforts should always be looked upon as apostolic works which are to be pursued by mandate of the Church and carried out in communion with her, in fidelity to the proper charism of the institute, and in obedience to the diocesan Bishop (cf. can. 678, §1).

This Instruction was adopted at an ordinary meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and was approved at an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, who ordered its publication.

Given in Rome, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 30, 1992.




ALBERTO BOVONE Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia              



Published in Contributi



Rome l9th March 1986, from the Offices of the Congregation for Catholic education



ANTONIO M. JAVIERRE ORTAS -Titular Archbishop of Meta, Secretary

The conciliar decree Inter mirifica, treating the complex modern phenomenon of the instruments of social communication, brought to light numerous problems of a pastoral and formative character. These problems concern the whole People of God; the clergy, the laity, apostolic and educational institutions, amongst which seminaries have pride of place. The brief treatment accorded to this matter in n. 16 of the conciliar decree and then developed in n. 111 of the Instruction Communio et Progressio and in n. 68 of the Ratio Fundamentalis, is an important point of reference for Institutes of priestly formation (theological faculties, seminaries, religious studentates), and is an effective stimulus for them in their didactic and practical-pastoral activity.

Given the wide diversity of local situations it is understandable that formation work and its fruits in this regard have not been equal everywhere. Formation in the means of social communication is relatively new, lacking at times both suitable experience and well prepared teachers, such that the whole formative work seems in many cases difficult, poorly organized and inadequate. There are at times organizational and technical delays and dearths which contrast with the rapid evolution that is actually going on in communication systems and techniques, involving the entire cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Message for the XIX World Day for Social Communications, 15th April, 1985). 

So that the preparation of future priests in this regard may be less inadequate and may better meet their needs in the work that awaits them, the Congregation for Catholic Education, having consulted widely with experts in the matter, and especially with the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, is pleased to offer to seminaries the present "Guide" in the hope that it will help in some way in carrying out their responsibilities. Whatever possible future developments and local diversity of situation there may be, all institutes of priestly formation must today urgently face a common core of fundamental questions concerning the personal conduct of receivers, the pastoral use of the mass media, and specialized formation for particular works. On the basis of the experience of recent years we here give some general guidelines for all three levels of formation, leaving to Their Excellencies the Bishops and to Reverend Educators their application to concrete circumstances and local necessities. 

No doubt, in the formative path delineated in this document certain limitations will be noted. But we are persuaded that even if it be so, a benevolent and attentive reader will find it sufficiently stimulating and apt to impress on the whole educative work of seminaries a direction which more closely conforms to the intentions of Vatican Council II and to the spiritual needs of our time. We hope, then, that our document will be well received, and that its message will be put into practice in all institutes of priestly formation for the benefit of candidates for the priesthood and of the whole Church.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for Catholic education, l9th March 1986, Feast of St. Joseph.


ANTONIO M. JAVIERRE ORTAS -Titular Archbishop of Meta, Secretary


1. Human communication, a gift of God. God, the Supreme Good, incessantly communicates his gifts to men and women, the objects of his particular solicitude and love, in anticipation of the time when he will communicate himself more fully to them in the beatific vision. More than that: in order that his image in his human creatures might increasingly reflect the divine perfection (cf. Mt 5, 48), he has willed to associate them in his own work, making them, in their turn, messengers and dispensers of the same gifts to their brothers and sisters and to all humanity.

By a necessity of their nature, in fact, men and women, from the earliest moments of their existence, took to communicating their spiritual goods to their fellows,1 by means of signs which were perceptible to the senses. Then little by little, with the passage of time, they discovered and invented means and vehicles of communication which increasingly overcame the original limitations imposed by space and time. The point has now been reached where, by a constant acceleration in technological development, worldwide and instantaneous communication has become possible between the members of the human race, and the instruments which permit this exchange evolve more refined and sophisticated forms at an astonishing rate (e.g. informatics, telematics).

2. Revelation and communication. The Church could not fail to be interested in such a providential development, since it is charged with the task of transmitting the truths of divine revelation to all humanity. God, in fact, having "in many and various ways spoken of old by the prophets; in our own time has spoken to us by his son" (Heb 1,1-2) and he arranged "that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, and be transmitted to all generations". Therefore Christ the Lord... commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to all... This was faithfully done: it was done by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and from his works...; it was done by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who... committed the message of salvation to writing.

"In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them 'their own position as teaching authority'".2

3. From "communication" to "communion". In more recent times the Church has considered even the instruments of social communication as providential means for the accomplishment of its mission to "preach from the housetops" (Lk 12, 3), "to all nations" (Mk 16, 15), "to the end of the earth" (Acts 1, 8), the word of salvation. It has concerned itself, moreover, with educating and caring for the human person, the whole person, both as humankind and as Christian. The Church has, in fact, welcomed with open arms those instruments as "marvellous inventions of today which have a powerful effect on people's minds" 3 and as "wonderful fruits of human work and ingenuity, the gift of God from whom every good comes".4

Aware, however, of the cultural and moral ambivalence sometimes displayed by media programmes, the Church "with watchful care" 5 has exerted itself to circumvent every " use (of them) contrary to the Creator's plan" 6 and such as might cause damage or ruin to his creatures.

The Church's post-conciliar teaching points out that, ideally, "communication" should result in "communion", whether the communication is interpersonal or "mass". The teaching makes an analogy with two divine exemplars of perfect communication-communion. The first is Jesus Christ, "the perfect Communicator", in Whom the incarnate Word made his own "the nature of those who were to receive his communication and gave his message not only in words but in the whole manner of his life. He spoke from within, from out of the press of his people. He adjusted to his people's way of talking and to their patterns of thought. And he spoke out of the predicament of their time...

"In the institution of the Holy Eucharist, Christ gave us the most perfect, most intimate form of communion between God and man... Further, Christ communicated to us his life-giving Spirit, who brings all men together in unity".7

The other exemplar is to be found in "the central mystery of the eternal communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who live a single divine life".8

4. The instruments of social communication and the ministerial priesthood. In the past few decades, the instruments of social communication have come to the point of exercising an enormous and profound influence on practically every aspect, sector and relationship of society. The new problems arising from this growing influence have resulted in the emergence of many teachings, exhortations and norms from the Church's teaching authority. These have been intended for the protection and benefit not only of the faithful and of each man of good will, but also of all those who are called to exercise the priestly ministry in the contemporary world.9

In conformity with these official guidelines issued by the Church, this Congregation, since 1970, in the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, has given general indications on matters relating to the instruments of social communication, and has gone on to lay down that future priests should be trained in the seminary in the correct use of these instruments. This provision had a threefold purpose, namely, that the seminarians might impose discipline on their own personal use of the media, that they might be able to train the faithful in their turn to exercise similar self-discipline, and that they might learn how to use the media in their apostolate.10

The following year, the Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio went over the same ground. It said: "If students for the priesthood and religious in training wish to be part of modern life and also to be at all effective in their apostolate, they should know how the media work upon the fabric of society, and also the technique of their use. This knowledge should be an integral part of their ordinary education".11

5. The present situation. The guidelines given in the Ratio Fundamentalis were therefore to be borne in mind by the competent episcopal conferences while preparing the Ratio for their respective countries, so that they might be put into effect in a specific way in each seminary's regulations and study programmes.

Since it was a question of inserting a totally new element into the seminary curriculum, difficulties were, of course, to be expected. The Congregation, appreciating this, initiated an inquiry in 1977 in all seminaries, major and minor, to ascertain whether and to what extent its directive to introduce a training programme in the field of social communications had been understood and implemented.

From the replies received, it emerged that in the majority of the centres of ecclesiastical formation, the matter had been indeed adverted to; however, definitive and organic programmes were still almost totally lacking, either because the specific object and scope of any programme was poorly understood, or because there had been a failure to distinguish between the aims and levels which had been visualized in the proposal. A further difficulty was that qualified staff to prepare and carry out the training programme in communications were in short supply. Yet another factor was an absence of technical aid and economic means.

6. This Guide. These insufficiencies have not been eliminated with the passage of the years, and the advances in human communication in the meantime have meant that the training institutes have fallen even farther behind. For this reason, the Congregation, while recognizing with approval the solid advances made in various seminaries and teaching institutes dependent on ecclesiastical authority, has decided, after consultation with the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, to issue the present Guide, in which it will offer certain items of advice, with proposals and directives. These must necessarily be of a rather general character, given the shifting ground to be traversed in a field of such rapid change and development, as well as the diversity of local situations to be considered; 12 but the object is to lay down reliable guidelines without delay, so that the directives and suggestions of the Church's teaching authority and the provisions in the Ratio Fundamentalis are carried out precisely and efficiently. The Guide is addressed, in the first place, to the bishops' conferences and to their Excellencies the bishops of the dioceses in territories of common law; then, to superiors and teachers in seminaries. The people directly affected by the specific initiation and training of which the Guide treats are intended to be principally the students of major and minor seminaries in the above-mentioned territories. The document, however, can also be of service to seminaries and institutes of priestly training which are not dependent on the Congregation for Catholic Education.

7.The object. The proper and direct object of the initiation and specific education with which the Guide is concerned is in the first place those media of communication of our day often referred to as the mass media, 13 or as diffusion techniques, or mass communication, or audiovisuals. They are also called by various other, more or less inadequate, names, but the Decree Inter mirifica, later followed by the new Code of Canon Law, 14 has more properly called them "instruments of social communication": "the press, the cinema, the radio, the television and the other instruments with similar characteristics" (no. 1). They are in fact distinguished by their high-level technical emphasis, by their specially outstanding suitability for achieving communication, which is the primary factor in the phenomenon of socialization 15 which is such a feature of today.

The social and cultural, as well as the moral and pastoral problems connected with these instruments are also an object of the Guide. First among these would be those which arise in more general human communication, and then those arising from the technology employed, especially, today, from microelectronics. 16

However, as well as this proper and direct object of the present Guide, pastoral necessity requires that we occasionally concern ourselves also with the study and practice of other media and instruments of expression and communication, such as the theatre, the figurative arts, and so forth, even if these are outside the limits which we have indicated above.

8. Editorial criteria. The Guide avoids treating technical questions and theories about the mass media and the social and cultural phenomena connected with them; something, anyhow, on which experts are often in disagreement. As well as this, it abstains from treating at length of what the Church's teaching authority has been teaching and laying down on communications matters for the past five decades; it simply collects all the documents of importance and presents them in Appendix I. And finally, in Appendix II, it makes a list of the particular themes and subjects which need to be dealt with in the three different levels of initiation and education in social communications. 


9. Three levels. It will make good sense to begin the course of instruction in media matters and to continue it along three different levels.

At the first, or basic, level, attention is to be focused on the receivers, which is to say, all readers, viewers and listeners of mass media.17 Since every student must be classified as a receiver, training from this aspect must be given to all of them without distinction.

The formation given at the second level is "pastoral", and is to be given to all future priests, since it has to do with their future priestly ministry. In that ministry, they are going to require to be able to train the faithful, in their turn, in the right use of mass media; they will also need to know how they can themselves use the media to the best advantage for the purposes of their apostolate.

On the third level is "specialist" training, and it will affect "those who already work in the mass media, or who, giving evidence of special talent, are being prepared to work in the field". 18 Also to be considered on this third level will be those who are preparing to teach and give training in mass media on the first two levels.

10. Maintaining distinctions. It will be well, at each level, to be quite precise about what is being studied. Clear distinctions are to be made between the questions which have properly to do with the instruments of social communication, and other questions which do not touch these instruments directly. The following advice is offered:

a) Close attention should be paid - in so far as the differences in languages allow, - to the correct use of terms; and the different accepted meanings authorized by the various authors and schools will have to be kept in mind. Precision will, of course, be specially necessary with the juridical meaning which conciliar terminology has assumed in the new Code of Canon Law.

b) In particular, only the daily press or periodicals of information, the cinema, the radio, television and other media having the same technological characteristics, are to be regarded and treated as "instruments of social communication".19 They are to be distinguished from other means of expression which, for all their importance, do not fit the description (for instance, the theatre); also from communications activities employing similar techniques (for instance, book publishing), and those which are complementary to the "instruments" properly so-called, such as discs, cassettes, slides, group-media, multimedia, minimedia (mentioned in no. 7).

c) Keeping in mind the accelerated evolution, worldwide, of the social communications technology in the direction of telechronics and telematics, of which the mass media are at once the object, vehicle and mirror, it is clear that no one medium should be treated in the training course as if the others did not exist (e.g. cinema alone or television alone, with no mention of the printed word). Similarly, it would be a mistake to deal with some particular aspect of a medium in isolation (e.g. the culture and civilization of "the image"). The media ought to be treated all together and as a whole, and all the questions and angles dealt with by the best-known authors should be looked at, such as "the world dialogue", "the global village", "one-dimensional man", "computer-conditioned man"...

d) Finally, among these and other socio-cultural macrophenomena, it will be necessary to give most space to the questions concerning information, propaganda, advertising, public opinion, and the use of leisure, in so far as these have specific connections with the media.

11. Integral training. At the first two levels of formation especially, the basic and the pastoral, care will have to be taken to give the students a formation to mass media which is all of one piece, with its limits and content clearly defined, and the appropriate attention devoted to didactic practice. Thus:

a) What is to be attempted in every case is to form and conserve a fully human personality in the receivers, making them receptive of those psycho-sociological and ethico-cultural values with which the mass media involve themselves so unremittingly, providing occasion for the growth or withering of that personality. The students are to be assisted towards Christian maturity, so that, by using the mass media responsibly, they will then know how to live the whole of their priestly lives in a rich and productive way.

b) Side by side with the teaching of theory there must be provision of practical experience in the use of the tools of social communication. This will help the students to acquire, as they mature, a knowledge of the cultural and political, religious and moral trends in the current productions and programming. It will also enable them to evaluate, critically and realistically, the modern techniques. To make all this possible, the seminaries and institutes of instruction need to be supplied with the proper equipment.

12. Soundness of doctrine. It is necessary that the training in social communications shall be begun and continued in a context which is doctrinally sound and safe, with no superficiality or improvisation on the part of the teachers (cf. Appendix I, no. 35). Therefore...

a) It will not be sufficient that the teachers in the basic course of initiation are simply practitioners or technicians of a particular mass medium, even though, as such, they may be of the highest professional competence. They will need also to have a thorough grasp of the whole range of problems, cultural and technical, profane and religious; and preferably this should have been acquired by frequenting the second level (pastoral) course.

b) The teachers in the second level course especially must be well-informed regarding what the most highly qualified scholars in the different cultural situations have researched, formulated and published. But, in imparting this knowledge to the students, they must distinguish clearly between what is certain and proven and what is hypothetical and open to discussion. They will distinguish the transitory from the definitive, the particular from the general, and the facts from their ideological interpretations. This will be specially important whenever particular norms for moral behaviour and pastoral practice are derived from theories and proposals.

c) It is necessary that all shall make themselves familiar with the considerable volume of official Church teaching on social communications, that they shall accept it trustfully and teach it faithfully. This teaching collected into one place in Appendix I offers a great deal of material for study and reflection. Among the principal documents to which a Catholic teacher of mass media should constantly refer are the following: Pius XI's Encyclical on Cinema (1936), Vigilanti Cura; the two Discourses on the Ideal Film (1955) and the Encyclical Miranda prorsus (1957) of Pius XII; the Letter of the Secretariat of State to the Semaine Sociale de Nancy (1955); the conciliar Decree Inter mirifica (1963); the Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio (1971); the canons on the instruments of social communication in the new Code of Canon Law (1983); and the Messages issued by the Supreme Pontiffs year by year for World Communications Day.

13. Necessary Aids. The Congregation wishes that in the various linguistic and cultural areas, suitable books and texts shall be quickly and carefully prepared and distributed, to be used in the first two levels of social communications training in the seminaries. They will contain the Church's official teaching, accompanied by study notes and well organized bibliographies indicating the literature published throughout the world on the various aspects of the subject. 



14. Purpose. The initial introduction and basic training ought to enlighten the students, refine their critical sense, and form their conscience, so as to save them falling prey to the facile suggestions and manipulations perpetrated by the mass media, particularly where these may offend against truth or morality. The idea is to give the students a sound doctrinal and ascetical training, so that they will be well-equipped "to take responsibility for the manner in which they receive, by their free and personal choice, whatever is presented by the media... preferring things that are worthwhile in terms of virtue, knowledge and art; avoiding whatever may cause or occasion spiritual detriment to oneself or which, through bad example, can lead others astray; refraining from whatever impedes good communications and promotes the evil kind".20

15. Division of responsibility in student training. The family,21 the catechism class 22 and the school, 23 particularly the Catholic school, whether primary, secondary, or higher, are expected to provide the basic training for the receivers, conjointly and at the appropriate time. 24 In the school, the mass media will be dealt with either incidentally, in the course of teaching the various ordinary subjects, or - at least in the middle and higher schools - in classes set aside for the subject itself. But in cases where students entering the seminary are found to be lacking in this basic training, the seminary itself will have to supply it. In any case, the seminary will not confine itself to giving classes in mass media in the course of its ordinary curriculum, but will, in addition, arrange for courses, conferences, seminars, exercises 25 and talks... all designed to inculcate principles and norms which will be useful: 1. in aiding the student to make well-informed choices, by himself, - both quantitive and qualitative - among the programmes available to him; 2. in insuring that the student will make profitable and responsible use of his listening and viewing time, and 3. in exercising the student, according to the level at which he is studying and the maturity which he has reached, in making well-reasoned critical judgements on the messages and values - cultural and religious, explicit or implicit - which are proposed, or systematically ignored, by media programmes.

16. Cultural aspect. The student will require to know something about the technical aspects of each medium, otherwise he cannot hope to understand its "language" correctly. They should be carefully instructed also regarding the economic, political or ideological structures which, in the different national and cultural areas, may affect the media of social communications at the level of production, distribution or consumption, or may condition the messages coming from them, either in quantity or quality.26 But the cultural and aesthetic awareness of the student must also be sharpened, and so, at the different levels of his academic progress, he should be trained to recognize and appreciate other modes and forms of expression and communication: history, philosophy, literature, drama, the figurative arts, music; and to make the necessary comparisons and checks with what the mass media, that "parallel school", presents. This cultural and aesthetic formation, training and refining the good taste of the students will make it natural for them to reject as a matter of course programming of poor cultural quality or moral unseemliness. 27 In this connection, it goes without saying that a solid philosophical foundation will be of great benefit to the students.

17. Religious and moral aspect. The religious and moral aspect is of fundamental importance in the training of future priests towards that personal interior freedom, rooted in deep conviction, which will cause them to set an example, regarding mass media, that their people will wish to follow. In thus preparing them...

a) treatment of the moral aspects of mass media should not be allowed to descend to mere moralizing, nor should it be reduced to a consideration merely of sexual morality; though the special implications of this latter for those preparing for a life of celibacy should not be overlooked;

b) the emphasis should be upon the positive, showing a strong preference for what is solid and constructive over what is harmful or dangerous and therefore to be avoided;

c) in good as in bad, attention should be drawn not only to what affects the individual conscience, but also to the social relevance of a person's choices and their social effects. The students' attention shall be directed also to any "moral judgements" which shall happen to be pronounced by the competent authority.28

18. Exposure to the mass media. The students need to become acquainted with the real world about which they are being taught in class. They need also to be trained to give "the witness of a well-rounded and mature personality that can enter relationships with others without exaggerated precautions or naive imprudence, but with an open-hearted and serenely-balanced cordiality."29 To achieve these aims, and to prevent them adopting a totally defensive and closed attitude to the mass media, it is recommended that they should accustom themselves, individually or in homogeneous groups, to wide-ranging news reports from the media about the dramas and problems of the real world outside:

a) taking due account of the different ages of the students and the different levels of cultural and moral development they have reached;

b) educating them to use the mass media not merely or exclusively for entertainment, but much more for information, for broadening the mind, widening the horizons, and achieving a nicely-balanced cultural and social growth. They should be drilled, by means of forums and other similar exercises, in analyzing, discussing and giving critical judgement on media shows and messages, especially those dealing with matters which are topical and controversial in the religious, moral or cultural fields;

c) remembering the norms of prudence and asceticism constantly recommended by the Supreme Pontiffs, by Vatican II, and by the Code of Canon Law, for those preparing for a consecrated life.30

19. Necessary balance. Situations will arise where it is found necessary to find remedies for past excessive use or misuse of the mass media. In such cass, the basic media training course should be conducted in a context of balanced individual and community discipline, designed to compensate for the cultural and spiritual imbalance connected with a prolonged and unbalanced use of mass media. The damage to be repaired will have arisen either from the content of the media programmes which may have been sometimes unseemly or of poor quality; or even from the manner of presentation, which may have resulted in the "medium" itself becoming the "message".

As an antidote to time-wasting, sometimes even alienating indulgence in superficial media programmes, the students should be guided to the love and practice of reading, study, silence and meditation. They should be encouraged, and be provided with the necessary conditions for community dialogue and prayer. This will serve to remedy the isolation and self-absorbtion caused by the unidirectional communication of the mass media, and will revive the authentic and absolute value proper to the Christian profession and the priestly ministry, particularly those of obedience and evangelic poverty,31 which the materialist and consumerist vision of human existence offered by the instruments of social communication very often rejects or ignores. 


20. The three aims. The social communications training of the second level, which is specifically pastoral, is to be given to all students without distinction during their philosophy and theology courses. It has three aims:

a) to train those concerned in the correct use of the instruments of social communication (and in general, of every technique of expression and communication) in their pastoral activities, when the circumstances permit it; 32

b) to train them to be masters and guides of others (receivers in general, educators, all those who work in the mass media) through instruction, catechesis, preaching, etc., and as consultants, confessors, spiritual directors;

c) and above all, to get them into a state of mind in which they will be permanently ready to make the necessary adjustments in their pastoral activity, including those demanded by the inculturation of the Christian faith and life in the different particular churches,33 in a world psychologically and socially conditioned by the mass media 34 and even already by telematics and informatics.35

21. Practical training. The irreplaceable function of the ministry of the word in the priestly apostolate demands that the future priest shall be thoroughly trained in the theory and practice of the art of speaking. As a necessary part of his training in social communications, also, he should be instructed on the manner in which each of the instruments of social comunication works (the so-called "languages" proper to the different media), and its relationship with the "messages" it is expected to transmit, and with the "receptive" characteristics of the various "audiences" .

This will be achieved by methodical lessons, which will be absorbed in greater depth in sessions of critical and comparative analysis of current or recorded programme-types and publications.

Furthermore, the students should be given practical, "hands on" exercises, possibly with the help of experts from outside, in the proper use of communications equipment: speaking to microphone, movie camera, or telecamera, with special attention to performance in liturgical ceremonies, interviewing and being interviewed, writing news and feature articles and scripts for radio and television, and composing advertising copy. Discussion sessions on the merits and faults of the individual performances will be of value.

For journalistic practice, advantage should be taken of internal seminary publications, also the local press, whether religious or secular. Use should be made of closed circuit television facilities when these happen to be available locally in parish or schools. Seminary publications are to be specially encouraged and, where necessary and possible, subsidized, as they are valuable means of stimulating and exercising the students' creativity.

22. Teaching and pastoral aids. In this practical training in the use of mass media, due attention should be given also to those various other media and techniques of expression and communication which may be regarded as similar or ancillary. Theatre has pre-eminence among these. Serious efforts should be made to help the future priests understand and appreciate it, both when it is featured in mass media 36 programming, as it frequently is, and when opportunities are provided within the seminary for producing theatrical works and acting in them. These latter activities can contribute greatly towards refining the student's capacity for communicating in a public way, as well as for group work.

There are also, and not to be undervalued, much less ignored, the group media, multimedia, minimedia, and audiovisuals in general, - discs, audio and video-cassettes, photo-slides, small films, - which, with their relatively modest cost and simplicity of operation, have particular advantages in teaching and pastoral work, especially with catechesis and group animation.

23. The whole person. To achieve the other two aims of this pastoral training, it will be important not to overlook, at least in their essential points, the various socio-cultural themes: technology, telematics, cultural anthropology, sociology, economics, semiology, linguistics, psychology and pedagogy, etc. - in so far as they are connected with human communication which is achieved by use of the mass media and of the latest technologies.

At the same time, the religious, moral and pastoral implications of the instruments of social communication should be examined. It will be useful, in fact, to keep always in mind "the whole person", whom the mass media affect both as an individual and as a social being: first as a person, then as a believer and a Christian. The Church thinks of the promotion of this "whole person's" wellbeing and advancement, especially today, as its proper pastoral task.37 The pastoral task of the priest will be to teach this person the message of salvation in an understandable way, and to motivate him/her to live accordingly.

24. Aptitude for communication. This theoretic and practical formation in the use of the instruments of social communication will certainly be helped forward if there exists in the seminary a favourable climate of communication among the students, and between the students and their teachers, in which it may be integrated. To this end, the following would seem to be required:

- that the students should be educated in interior silence, necessary for the spiritual as weIl as the intellectual life, and to shut out the enervating din of the daily clamouring media of communications;

- that the students be trained to engage in frequent interpersonal and group conversation, in which they will give special attention to correctness of language, clearness of exposition and logical argumentation. This will serve as a corrective to the passivity which can be occasioned by the unidirectional communications and images of the mass media;

- that the teachers, for their part, while treating of the mass media and other subjects, should take all possible care to express themselves with total clarity, while in no way sacrificing scientific exactness, and that they should make sure they speak in the idiom of today rather than that of earlier centuries;38

- that all concerned, without distinction, united in heart and will, should apply themselves to achieving "that communion which according to the Christian faith constitutes the primary and ultimate end of every communication".39

25. Aids and sources. The works of the more reputable authors should be put at the disposal of the students, and they should also be provided with relevant bulletins and magazines so that they may keep themselves au fait with the latest thinking and technical development in the communications field. They should be guided in critical discussion about the theses and proposals put forward in this literature, particularly when they are of a kind which can be applied to the ethico-moral behaviour of the faithful and of men in general, and to pastoral practice.

Further, recourse should be had to specialist assistance from outside, and the students should be facilitated for example, on the annual "World Day" which they themselves will prepare and celebrate 40 - in having frequent encounters with people who work in the ecclesiastical Organisms for mass media: diocesan, national and even international (that is, UCIP for the printed word, OCIC for Cinema, UNDA for radio and television), and with the workers in these disciplines in their work places.

26. Courses and examinations. It is advised that this specific pastoral training, at least in part, shall be given incidentally, as occasion arises, and little by little, during instruction on humanistic, sociological, philosophical and theological subjects. However, the discipline may not be considered as merely auxiliary or optional, but during the philosophy and theology courses the lessons and exercises on social communications are to be integrated in organic courses, with examinations at the end. 


27. The candidates. It will be right that "those who already work, or are preparing themselves to work, in communications" and who "show special aptitude and inclination" for this kind of work, shall not content themselves with the pastoral training given to all the seminarians, but shall procure for themselves "in due course one more specialized".41 The superiors, on their part, shall be solicitous to identify these young men and to help them and keep track of their progress.

Not only those who are preparing themselves for active journalism, or to work in cinema, radio or television, are invited to get themselves such training, but also, in some measure, those who are preparing to teach this discipline, or to direct or collaborate in diocesan or national offices for the social communications media.

28. Centres. To provide the specialist training for such as these, there exist in the different language areas, through the meritorious initiative of Church agencies or of individuals among the faithful, training centres which provide partial or complete courses in social communications techniques.

Where these, however, are lacking, or where, because of insufficiency of equipment or qualified staff, existing institutes of the Church are unable to provide what is required, it will be fitting that seminary students, or priests already engaged in the ministry, will prudently seek out other suitable public institutes where they can get a truly professional training.42

It is the hope of this Congregation that a clergy trained in this way will effectively benefit "all men of good will... in using the instruments of social communication solely for the good of humanity, whose future depends more every day in the correct use (of these instruments)", and this especially at a time when "the People of God, their gaze fixed on the future, descry with immense trust and burning love the marvels promised them in full measure by space age" telematics. 43



(in chronological order)

1. PIUS XI, Encyclical Letter Ad catholici sacerdoti (20th December 1935: AAS 28 [1936], 5), on cultural updating of clergy:

"[...] the priest, even in the midst of the pressing occupations of his ministry, and always in order that he may the better carry them out, shall continue to study seriously and deeply the theological disciplines, adding a richer erudition in sacred things to the body of knowledge he has brought away from the seminary. He will thus equip himself to be a better educator and guide of souls [...].

For the more dignified exercise of his office, and to earn the trust and esteem of the people, something that will go a long way to make his pastoral work effective, the priest ought to have that heritage of learning, even learning which is not strictly sacred, commonly possessed by educated people of his time [...]. Clerics ought not to rest content with what might possibly have sufficed in other times, but should feel under compulsion to reach a standard of culture corresponding in depth and extent to that generally enjoyed by cultured people today in comparison with those of times past."

2. PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR CINEMA, Letter from the President, Msgr Martin J. O'Connor, to the Italian bishops (lst June 1953) concerning parochial cinemas:

"4. [...] Many priests with the care of souls, concerned to defend the flock entrusted to them and convinced that they must oppose immoral cinema with wholesome and educative shows, have made great sacrifices to open in the parish or in the recreation centre connected with it a cinema theatre to which the people, and the youth especially, can go without being exposed to dangers.

5. These initiatives are confirmation of the diligence with which the bishops and clergy are keeping track of the worrying phenomenon of the cinema, which already has got to be a necessity for a great part of the population, and not only for the town-dwellers but also for those who live in little rural centres.

20. [...] Let the diocesan commission concern itself to orientate public opinion, and let it use all its influence to create a Christian conscience in the moviegoers who throng the public halls. With this end in view, study circles or 'cineforums' have been established in many towns. These ought to be inspired in their activity by the principles of Christian morality and by the norms issuing from the ecclesiastical authority, both in the choice of the films to put on and in the positions taken in discussion.

25. [...] Let the 'Catholic Cinema Day' be carefully prepared, on which the priests will illustrate for the faithful their duties in this field."

3. PIUS XII, Exhortation I rapidi progressi, to the Italian bishops, concerning television (lst January 1954: AAS 46 [1954], 18):

"24. [...] it is more than ever necessary and urgent to form in the faithful a right conscience regarding the duties of Christians concerning the use they make of television: a conscience, that is, which will warn them of the possible dangers and keep them attentive to the judgements of the ecclesiastical authority concerning the morality of images transmitted by television [...]. We therefore could not sufficiently praise as apostles of good all those who, according to the possibilities open to them, shall help you in this beneficent work."

4. PIUS XII, in the Encyclical Letter Sacra virginitas(25th March 1954: AAS 46 [1954], 161), treats cinema in the third part, pointing out that perfect chastity is a difficult virtue, indicating the dangers and the means to stand firm:

"54. [...] Some hold that all Christians, and priests above all, ought not to be segregated from the world, as in times past, but should be present in the world, and that it is therefore necessary to put them in positions of risk and expose them to situations which will put their chastity to the proof, so that it may be clearly seen whether or not they have the strength to endure. So, they would maintain that the young clerics ought to see everything, so that they may accustom themselves to look tranquilly at everything that is to be seen, and in this way harden themselves against oversensitivity to disturbance. They will therefore easily permit them to look at everything that happens under their eyes, without any rules of modesty; to frequent the cinemas, even when there is question of films prohibited by the ecclesiastical monitors; to leaf through any magazine whatever even if it is obscene [...]. And they concede this because, they contend, the public today already lives on such shows and publications, and whoever wants to help them has got to understand their way of thinking and of looking at things. But it is easy to comprehend how mistaken and dangerous it would be to take this way of educating the young cleric and of guiding him to the holiness his state demands."

5. SACRED CONGREGATION OF THE COUNCIL, Letter of the Prefect, Card. Pietro Ciriaci (16th June 1956), to the Congress of Antwerp (lst - 2nd August 1956) on the theme"Catechesis for our time":

"2. [...] Who is it who does not see how urgent and important it is, in a changing world where modern techniques have made things almost unrecognizable, to reconsider the essential data governing religious education, to pick out the elements on which there can be no compromise, to adapt methods to meet the present necessities, the needs of the classes and countries which are culturally underdeveloped, the psychological condition of the man of today? "

6. PIUS XII, Discourse on bringing the Church's official teaching up to date (14th September 1956: AAS 48 [1956], 707):

"25. [...] The priest with the care of souls can and must know what modern science, art and techniques affirm about man's end and about his religious and moral life: that which is religiously admissible, that which is inadmissible, that which is indifferent [...]. There is a similar (and today a greater) need for 'pastoral updating' - we wish to say: adaptation - in the preaching of the Church (the living ecclesiastical Magisterium), just as also there is need for 'pastoral updating' in the modern sciences; and we must say that there is at the present moment a greater need for an 'orientation' of these same modern sciences (in so far as they bear upon the religious and moral fields) to the Church's official teaching [...]."

7. PIUS XII, in the Encyclical Letter Miranda prorsus (8th September 1957: AAS 49 [1957], 765), first highlights the indispensible preparation in general of listeners and viewers of radio and television (nos. 58-59, 61-62), then the specific preparation of the clergy with respect to radio and television (nos. 127-128 and 147) and with respect to all the mass media (nos. 153 and 154):

" 58. [ ... ] Motion pictures, radio and television include, in some fashion, various types of spectacle already long in use, yet each expresses a new product, and thus a new kind of spectacle which is aimed not a few chosen spectators, but at vast throngs of men, who differ among themselves in age, way of life and culture.

59. In order, then, that, in such conditions, shows of this kind may be able to pursue their proper object, it is essential that the minds and inclinations of the spectators be rightly trained and educated, so that they may not only understand the form proper to each of the arts, but also be guided, especially in this matter, by a right conscience. Thus they will be enabled to practise mature consideration and judgment on the various items which the film or television screen puts before them, and not, as very frequently happens, be lured and arbitrarily swept away by the power of their attraction.

61. [...] Several plans have been launched which aim at making both youths and grown-ups willing to examine adequately and competently the benefits and the dangers of these shows, and give a balanced decision on them [...].

62. Provided these plans [...], in accordance with Our hopes, correspond to pedagogical principles and right rules of mental development, we not only give them our approval, but also heartily commend them; and thus we desire them to be introduced into every type of school, Catholic Action groups and parish societies.

127. Since a properly dignified presentation of liturgical ceremonies, of the truths of the Catholic Faith, and of events connected with the Church, by means of radio, obviously demands [...] considerable talent and skill, it is essential that both priests [...] and laymen, who are selected for so important an activity, should be well trained in suitable methods.

128. This end [...] would clearly be assisted if, in countries where Catholics employ the latest radio equipment and have day-to-day experience, appropriate study and training courses could be arranged, by means of which learners from other countries could acquire that skill which is indispensable if radio religious programmes are to attain the best artistic and technical standards.

147. We paternally exhort in particular clerics, and members of religious orders and congregations - to turn their attention to this new art and give their active cooperation, so that whatever benefits the past and true progress have contributed to the mind's development, may be also employed in full measure to the advantage of television.

153. We cannot conclude this Letter [...] Venerable Brethren, without recalling to your mind the importance of the function committed to the priest for encouraging and mastering the inventions which affect communication, not only in other spheres of the apostolate, but especially in this essential work of the Church.

154. He ought to have a sound knowledge of all questions which confront the souls of Christians with regard to motion pictures, radio and television. As We said in a discourse to those taking part in a Study Week for the bringing up-to-date of pastoral practice in Italy at the present time, 'The priest with the care of souls can and must know what modern science, art and technique assert whenever they touch on the end of man and his moral and religious life'. Let him learn to use these aids correctly as often as, in the prudent judgment of ecclesiastical authority, the nature and the ministry entrusted to him and the need of assisting an increasing number of souls, demand it.

Finally if these arts are employed by the priest to advantage, his prudence, self-control and sense of responsibility will shine out as an example to all christians."

8. JOHN XXIII, Discourse to the Roman clergy, promulgating the First Roman Synod (24th November 1960: AAS 52 [1960], 967), on mortification for the priest:

"34. Ecce nos reliquimus omnia et secuti sumus Te. In this everything that we have left for Christ, there is also surely included occupying ourselves with all reading, looking at newspapers, magazines, books, and recreation, which in any way are contradictory to the truth or to the spirit of Christ, to the teaching of the Holy Church, or to the invitations of our blessed Synod."

9. FIRST ROMAN SYNOD (29th June 1960: Primo Sinodo Romano, Vatican Press, 1961), regarding "shows" in general, laid down:

"704, - 2. It is well that the clergy [...] shall be instructed about 'shows' and the relative duties of apostolate, keeping in mind the teachings of the Supreme Pontiffs."

Regarding cinemas depending on the ecclesiastical authority:

"693, - 1. The projection halls approved by the ecclesiastical authority have the purpose of protecting the faithful, and especially the young people, from being harmed by evil films, and to use the good ones for educational ends.

- 2. It is absolutely necessary and obligatory that the directors of these halls shall be motivated by apostolic considerations, adopting strict criteria in selecting programmes, and always keeping in mind the particular requirements of a Catholic hall approved by the ecclesiastical authority."

Regarding the training of the faithful:

"703. - 1. The clergy [...] and all the associations and works of apostolate shall exert themselves to form in the faithful a right conscience concerning the use of the modern audiovisual media. To help to achieve this, let them organize days of propaganda and courses of preaching, which can be concluded with a religious function and a public promise to stay away from every immoral show."

10. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the sacred liturgy (4th December 1963: AAS 56 [1964], 105). It deals with the transmission of sacred ceremonies and functions on radio and television:

"20. Transmission of the sacred rites by radio and television, especially in the case of Mass, shall be done with delicacy and dignity.

A suitable person, appointed by the bishops, should direct it and have the responsibility for it."

11. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Decree Inter mirifica on the instruments of social communication (4th December 1963: AAS 56 [ 1964], 145). Fixes the pastoral tasks of the Church respecting the use of the mass media (nos. 3 and 13); deals with the theoretical and practical preparation of all receivers (nos. 9 and 16) and of those who use the media for pastoral purposes (no. 15); finally, treats of World Communications Day as an occasion for alerting the faithful on media matters (no. 18):

"3. [...] The Catholic Church was founded by Christ our Lord to bring salvation to all men. It feels obliged, therefore, to preach the gospel. In the same way, it believes that its task involves employing the means of social communications to announce the good news of salvation and to teach men how to use them properly.

It is the Church's birthright to use and own any of these media which are necessary or useful for the formation of Christians and for pastoral activity. Pastors of souls have the task of instructing and directing the faithful how to use these media in a way that will ensure their own salvation and perfection and that of all mankind.

For the rest, it will be principally for laymen to animate these media with a Christian and human spirit and to ensure that they live up to humanity's hopes for them, in accordance with God's design.

13. All the members of the Church should make a concerted effort to ensure that the means of communication are put at the service of the multiple forms of the apostolate without delay and as energetically as possible where and when they are needed. They should forestall projects likely to prove harmful, especially in those regions where moral and religious progress would require their intervention more urgently.

Pastors of souls should be particularly zealous in this field, since it is closely linked with their task of preaching the Gospel. Laymen who work professionally in these media should endeavor to bear witness to Christ: first of all, by doing their work competently and in an apostolic spirit, secondly by collaborating directly, each one according to his ability, in the pastoral activity of the Church, making a technical, economic, cultural or artistic contribution.

9. Those who receive the means of social communication - readers, viewers, audiences - do so of their own free choice. Special obligations rest on them in consequence. A properly motivated selectivity would be wholly in favor of whatever excels in virtue, culture and art. Likewise, it would avoid whatever might be a cause or occasion of spiritual harm to the recipients or might be a source of danger to others through bad example; it would avoid whatever might hinder the communication of the good and facilitate the communication of what is evil. This last usually occurs when financial help is given to those who exploit the media solely for profit.

If they are to obey the moral law, those who use the media ought to keep themselves informed in good time about assessments arrived at by the authorities with competence in this sphere and to conform to them as a right conscience would dictate. They should take appropriate steps to direct and form their consciences so that they may more readily resist less wholesome influences and profit more fully from the good.

16. Those who receive the means of social communication differ in age and culture. Hence the need for instruction and practical experience tailored not merely to the character of each medium but to the needs of each group. They need the instruction and practical experience if they are to use the media properly. Projects designed to effect this, especially among the young, should be encouraged and multiplied in Catholic schools at all levels, in seminaries and lay apostolate associations, and should be directed in accordance with the principles of Christian morality. For quicker results, Catholic teaching and regulations in this matter should be given and explained in the catechism.

15. Priests, religious and laity should be trained at once to meet the needs described above. They should acquire the competence needed to use these media for the apostolate.

First, lay people must be given the necessary technical, doctrinal and moral formation. To this end, schools, institutes or faculties must be provided in sufficient number, where journalists, writers for films, radio and television, and anyone else concerned, may receive a complete formation, imbued with the Christian spirit and especially with the Church's social teaching. Actors should also be instructed and helped so that their gifts too can benefit society. Lastly, literary critics of films, radio, television and the rest should be carefully prepared so that they will be fully competent in their respective spheres and will be trained and encouraged to give due consideration to morality in their critiques.

18. To make the Church's multiple apostolate in the field of social communication more effective, a day is to be set aside each year in every diocese, at the bishop's discretion, on which the faithful will be reminded of their duties in this domain. They should be asked to pray for the success of the Church's apostolate in this field and to contribute toward it, their contributions to be scrupulously employed for the support and the further development of the projects which the Church has initiated in view of the needs of the entire Church."

12. SACRED CONGREGATION FOR SEMINARIES, Norms for the Rectors of the seminaries of Italy (lOth June 1964):

"1. The attention given by the 2nd Ecumenical Vatican Council to the instruments of social communication, culminating in the conciliar Decree Inter mirifica, cannot fail to be a stimulus to those with responsibility for the training of the future ministers, to put them on the way to a more adequate estimate of those instruments and of the enlightened pastoral use of them.

2. We know, on the other hand, that already for some years there has been an ever more widely growing practice of projecting some films for seminary students, especially those in the higher classes, and of allowing them to view some television programmes, following this by discussion, with the intention of helping the seminarians to make a correct appreciation of audiovisuals in general, and to accustom them, in particular, to making an aesthetic-moral assessment of each performance viewed.

3. While we hope that the clerics' sensitivity will be deepened in regard to those instruments so readily, and sometimes so decisively, accessible to all in society; and while we approve in principle the initiatives already in operation in the institutes of ecclesiastical formation, we are bound at the same time to remind those in charge that these initiatives ought to be regulated in accordance with the norms of this Sacred Dicastery [...].

4. In this regard, it seems to us superfluous to bring up again the delicacy of conscience and the particular sensitivity of one who is preparing to become a man of God (2 Tim 4, 17) before the world, and the consequent unsuitability of allowing the student of the sanctuary to view films or television programmes, even those of high quality. We desire only to signify to those in charge that the criteria by which programmes are chosen for this special type of spectator must be much stricter than those followed for the simple faithful, unless we want the germ of naturalism to attack, perhaps irreparably, those called to be, by singular privilege, dispensers of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4, 2) and good stewards of God's grace (I Pet 4, 10).

5. [...] 4) Every show should invariably be followed by an appropriate critical discussion, under the guidance of a priest who is suitably prepared and of proven spirituality.

5) In agreement with His Excellency the local Ordinary, the rector shall provide for the specific training of this priest, and possibly of others, facilitating them in taking appropriate courses [...] and seeing to it that the professors' library has the principal works of film criticism [...].""

13. PAUL VI, Discourse to 1st National Congress of ACEC (Catholic Association of Parochial Cinema Proprietors, Italy)-7th July 1964-about being informed regarding official ecclesiastical teaching:

"4. The ecclesiastical teaching authority has issued a series of documents [...]. These very documents themselves advise Us to give you a first recommendation: master such documents, learn to know well what is the mind of the Church about your activities; you should not mind putting before the theories of profane masters, or the fashionable ideas of artists, or critics, or public opinion, teachings which are so well-considered, of such authority, of such humanity, as the Magisterium of the Church. This doctrine of ours, even in this field where the phenomena are in continuous evolution, and where there are new and voluble opinions every day, is no irksome shackle restraining us from keeping up with rapidly moving facts and ideas; it is a secure handhold which saves us from being submerged, it is a criterion by which we understand everything, make correct judgements and classifications, it is a fount of thought and experience which qualifies its possessor to hold his ground with authority with honour, and to be a secure and understanding guide and helper to others. It is a title to maturity, we might say: ut iam non simus parvuli fluctuantes et circumferamur omni vento doctrinae (Ephes 4, 14)."

14. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Decree Christus Dominus on the pastoral office of bishops in the Church (28th October 1965: AAS 58 [1966], 673), concerning the use of mass media by the bishops, Chapter II: The bishops and the particular Churches:

"13. [...] to announce the Christian doctrine, let them have recourse to public declarations [...] made through the press and the various instruments of social communication, which absolutely must be made use of for announcing the Gospel of Christ."

15. PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Ecclesiae Sanctae, for the application of some decrees of Vatican Council II (6th August 1966: AAS 58 [1966], 757), concerning no. 16 of Christus Dominus and no. 19 of Presbyterorum Ordinis, provides as follows:

"7. Bishops, either individually or in collaboration with other bishops, shall arrange that all priests, even if they are actually serving in the ministry, shall follow a course of pastoral lectures for a year after ordination and shall at stated intervals attend other lectures which will provide them with the opportunity of acquiring a fuller knowledge of pastoral matters, of the science of theology, of moral theology and of liturgy, of strengthening their spiritual life and of communicating their apostolic experience with one another."

16. PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Sacerdotalis caelibatus (24th June 1967, AAS 59 [1967], 567). The extracts are from the second part of the encyclical, where the means for serene living of a life of perfect chastity are indicated:

"60. [...] The difficulties and problems which make the observance of celibacy trying or actually impossible for some, derive often enough from a priestly training which, because of profound changes that have taken place in recent times, is no longer entirely adequate to form a personality worthy of a 'man of God' (I Tim 6, 11).

65. When the suitability of the subject has been ascertained, [...] care ought to be given to the progressive development of his personality, with both intellectual and moral education, designed for the control and complete mastering of instincts, sentiments and passions.

70. The young men ought to convince themselves that they will not be able to run their difficult course without a particular asceticism which is higher than that required of the other faithful and of the very aspirants to the priesthood themselves. A severe asceticism [...], that is the meditated and assiduous exercise of those virtues which make a priest out of a man [...] prudence and justice, firmness and temperance, [...] chastity such as is achieved by perseverance, harmonized with all the other virtues, natural and supernatural [...]. In such a way the aspirant to the priesthood will acquire a balanced personality, strong and mature.

77. Rightly jealous of his full self-giving to the Lord, the priest should know how to guard against sentimental tendencies which imperil an affectivity not sufficiently enlightened or guided by the Spirit. He should beware of looking for spiritual or apostolic pretexts for what are in fact dangerous inclinations of the heart".

17. S. CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Circular Letter I seminari minori (23rd May 1968: Enchiridion Vaticanum, III, p.161):

"The institution has a very precise purpose: to favour the seeds of vocation. From them arise the obligation for a regime in harmony with the age and the ages: a closer contact with the reality of (the student's) own family, his parish, the youth organizations. For this purpose the media of social communications should be used, following the dictates of prudent education."

18. S. CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (19th March 1985). As well as the two explicit references to the mass media in nos. 68 and 69, there are plenty of other indications which can be applied to the same subject, more or less. Of the three sections carried here, no. 4 belongs to the Introduction; nos. 67, 68 and 69 come from Chapter X: Studies in the Arts and Sciences; and no. 89 belongs to Chapter XIV: Teaching to be given:

"4. The priestly ministry today is exercised in a totally new condition, something evident from the new needs of men and from the actual type of civilization we live in [...]. These aspects of the civilization of our time must be kept constantly in mind, for the life and action of a priest, and his very preparation for the priesthood, must take account of them. In fact, the young men who enter the seminary today are inserted into society by way of various forms of social communication, which have regard for religion and above all for the life of the priest.

67. Let him be taught a way of expressing himself which is adapted to the men of today, as also the arts of speaking and writing, truly necessary for the priest.

68. Since people in today's culture are trained and regulated not only by books and teachers, but in ever greater dependence on the audiovisual media, it is much to be desired that the priests shall know how to use these media well, that is, not passively giving in to them, but capable of judging them critically. This, however, will be possible only if they are taught in the seminary by persons who are competent both in theory and practice, and if they are given exercises with these media, prudently and within reason, which will teach them how to discipline themselves, to educate the faithful, and to make effective use of the media in their apostolate.

69. From their first days in the seminary, and increasingly as they get older and their training advances, the seminarians shall be introduced to the social realities, especially as existing in their own country, so that, from the study of the various disciplines and of the situations in which men find themselves in their daily life, they may become rightly acquainted with social problems and controversies, be able to judge their nature, how they relate to one another, and the difficulties and consequences rising from them; also to find objective and just solutions in the light of natural law and the teaching of the Gospel.

89. The students shall learn to proceed critically in judging the culture of today and in the reading of its authors, taking possession of what is good and rejecting what is not. For this end, it will be very useful for them to read books and reviews with their professors, and afterwards to have critical discussions on what has been read."

19. CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, General Catechetical Directory (llth April 1971, AAS 64 [1972], 97):

"123. [...] It is the task of catechesis to educate the Christians to discern the nature and value of what the mass media propose to them. It is evident that this presupposes a knowledge of the technology and language of these media."

20. SECRETARIAT FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY: Ecumenical Directory. Part II: Ecumenism in higher teaching (16th April 1970: Enchiridion Vaticanum, II, 1976, 1044):

"92 - 13. [...] While the common or systematic formation must be given by Catholic professors, especially in exegesis and dogmatic and moral theology, the Catholic students can frequent schools which teach the practical disciplines, such as the biblical languages, the social communications media, the sociology of religion in so far as this new science is applied to the observation of facts [...]. It is for the superiors to arrange all this, having heard the opinion of the students, according to the seminary regulations and the norms laid down by the ordinary who has jurisdiction."

21. PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima adveniens, to Card. Maurice Roy, President of the Council for the Laity and of the Pont. Commission for Justice and Peace, on the 80th anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Rerum novarum (1891-1971), (14th May 1971: AAS 63 [1971], 415). It deals with the psycho-social influences of the mass media:

"20. Among the principal changes of our our time, we do not wish to forget the ever increasing importance of the instruments of social communication and their influence on the transformation of the mentalities, awareness and of the organization of humanity and human society [...]. How then can we avoid asking ourselves about the real wielders of this power, about the aims which they pursue, and the means they use; and on the repercussions of their actions on the exercise of individual freedoms, both in the political and ideological sector and in the social, economic and cultural life? "

22. PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS, Pastoral Instruction Communio et progressio, for the application of the conciliar Decree Inter mirifica (23rd May 1971: AAS 63 [ 1971 ], 583). It deals with training in general (no. 64), then, in particular, with training of receivers (nos. 15, 65-66, 69 and 107), with training of Church people for media work (no. 106), with teaching in moral and pastoral theology concerning media matters (no. 108), and with the specific training of the clergy themselves (nos. 110 and 111):

"64. A training that grounds a man in the basic principles governing the working of the media in human society is nowadays clearly necessary for all [...]. Training should include a practical consideration of the special nature of each medium and of its status in the local community and how it can best be utilized. And this should be done with special reference to man and society.

15. 'Communicators' are all those who actively employ the media. These have a duty in conscience to make themselves competent in the art of social communication in order to be effective in their work [...]. 'Recipients' are those who, for their own purpose, read, listen to, or view the various media. Everything possible should be done to enable these to know about the media. So they will be able to interpret their message accurately, to reap their benefit in full and play their part in the life of society. Only if this is done will the media function in the best possible way.

Recipients need some basic training if they are to benefit to the full from what the instruments of social communication have to offer. This training is not merely for their personal advantage, but it should help them to make their contribution to the give-and-take of society as well as to the constructive work of the community. Such a training will also help them to discover the best way of achieving these ends. It will help them to play their part in the process of striving for justice among nations and for the elimination of glaring inequalities between the richer and poorer countries.

66. For this they require a knowledge of the media that will keep pace with their maturing. And the process of education, which should be available to all, does not come to an end. It is to be supplemented continually by lectures and discussions, by special courses and study sessions that make use of the help of professionals in this field.

69. This sort of training must be given a regular place in school curricula. It must be given, and systematically, at every stage of education. In this way, young people can be helped gradually to develop a new perception in their interpretation of what is offered them by the press, the other media and the literary publishing houses. All this should be taught in study courses planned to include special sessions where the teacher can call on the help of professional communicators for lectures and for practical exercises.

67. It is never too early to start encouraging in children artistic taste, a keen critical faculty and a sense of personal responsibility based on sound morality. They need all these so that they can use discrimination in choosing the publications, films and broadcasts that are set before them [...].

107. The Church considers it to be one of her most urgent tasks to provide the means for training recipients in Christian principles [...]. The well-trained recipient will be able to take part in the dialogue promoted by the media and will demand high quality in communications. Catholic schools and organizations cannot ignore the urgent duty they have in this field. These schools and institutions will take care to teach young people not only to be good Christians when they are recipients but also to be active in using all the aids to communication that lie within the media, now called the 'total language'. So, young people will be true citizens of that age of social communications which has already begun.

106. As representatives of the Church, bishops, priests, religious and laity are increasingly asked to write in the press or appear on radio and television or to collaborate in filming. They are warmly urged to undertake this work which has consequences that are far more important than is usually imagined. But the complexity of the media requires a sound knowledge of their impact and of the best way to use them. It is therefore the task of the national centres and of the specialized organizations to make certain that those who have to use the media receive sufficient and timely training.

108. The whole question of social communications deserves attention from theologians, particularly in the areas of moral and pastoral - theology. Religious education, too, ought to include instruction on the modern media and their principal implications. This will be more readily achieved when theologians have studied the suggestions in the First Part of this Instruction and enriched them with their research and insight.

110. Bishops, priests, religious and laity, all in their own ways, have a clear duty to contribute to Christian education in this field. They must make this contribution with the social teachings of the Church in mind. They should of their own accord keep in touch with the latest developments in communications so as to be well informed themselves. Otherwise they will lack that familiarity with the media which actual use requires. Working with professional communicators, they will be wise to go more deeply into the problems presented by communicating through the media and to exchange their experiences and ideas.

111. If students for the priesthood and religious in training wish to be part of modern life and also to be at all effective in their apostolate, they should know how the media work upon the fabric of society, and also the technique of their use. This knowledge should be an integral part of their ordinary education. Indeed, without this knowledge an effective apostolate is impossible in a society which is increasingly conditioned by the media. It is also desirable that priests and religious understand how public opinion and popular attitudes come into being, so that they can suit both the situation and the people of their time. They can find the media of great help in their effort to announce the Word of God to modern men. Students who show a special gift in the handling of the media should be given higher training."

23. S. CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION: A guide to formation in priestly celibacy: in implementation of PAUL VI's Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (llth April 1974: Enchiridion Vaticanum, V, 1979, p. 188). In part IV on The Seminary as a Centre of Education, the last paragraph, below, deals with Instruments of social communication:

"89. The instruments of social communication have an important role in the formation of the man of today, and also of the priest, having as they do evident repercussions on the problem of a training to perfect chastity: they are, in fact, today very largely employed in the service of sex. The problem, then, touches the personal life of the priest who uses, willingly or unwillingly, these instruments and is subject to their influence; it touches also his pastoral ministry, for he is aware that these instruments contribute to the formation of his faithful, provide them with information, and take a part in bringing them to social maturity. The priest needs to be in a position to help them draw profit from this new resource, and also to protect them from the media's damaging effects (cf. Vatican Council Decree Inter mirifica, passim; Pont. Commission for Social Communications, Pastoral Instruction Communio et progressio, passim).

Not only for their own training, but also for their true training for the apostolate, it is good sense that aspirants to the priesthood should be initiated into the use of the instruments of social communication; and in general that they should be given practice in the art of communicating by word of mouth or in writing their thoughts to the people of our time, and in a manner adapted to the modern mentality.

It is clear that we are dealing with a problem of great import and gravity, if account is taken of the actual situation of the press and the wide audiences and the incisive impact of radio and television. Both outside and inside the seminary the environment of the community is closely affected by the use of these media, which have a large influence on the formation or on the deformation of the candidates for the priesthood.

The pedagogical problem of the media of social communications therefore cannot be reduced to a mere disciplinary regulation about how they are to be used: it is above all a problem of giving a positive education, of reflecting on the social phenomenon in which we are immersed; a problem of the preparation and culturing of masters capable of taking care of this aspect of training. It is not just a question of containing the damage liable to be caused by an instrument which can be dangerous, but of educating men in such a way as to make them ready to live responsibly in the concrete daily reality which surrounds them."

24. PAUL VI, Message for the VIIIth World Communications Day (16th May 1974: L'Osservatore Romano, 17th May 1974) on the theme: The Mass Media and evangelization in the contemporary world:

"Then, there is the search for new and improved methods of apostolate which apply the new audiovisual and related instruments to catechesis, to educational work in many forms, to the presentation of the Church's life, of her liturgy, her aims, her difficulties, but above all to the witness of faith and charity which animates and ever renews her.

Finally, Christians must consider how best to employ the instruments of social communication in order to reach countries, societies and persons to whom the apostolate of the Word cannot be brought directly because of particular situations, or scarcity of ministers, or because the Church is unable to exercise her mission freely."

25. PAUL VI, Allocution (22nd June 1974: L'Osservatore Romano, 23rd June 1974), on the proper tasks of priests:

"Like Jesus, like the Apostles, priests are totally at the service of God and men: this is their destiny. Hence the duty of their formation, a duty that devolves upon them more and more as time goes by. Spiritual formation [...]; pastoral formation, seeking and examining, in the light of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, how to serve more effectively the world in which they are called to live and work in the name of Christ. Doctrinal formation: rooted in faith and adapted to the times, a formation which will help them better to understand the world through study that is not only phenomenological but also nourished with the life-blood of Revelation and Tradition, that will enable them to think clearly and thus be the leaven in the mass and bring to the world the light of Christ."

26. PAUL VI, Discourse to the first General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops, 1974, on Evangelization (27th September 1974: AAS 66 [1974], 563):

"One should not forget the immense possibilities, undreamt of at one time, which today's world offers along the paths of those who, in the name of Christ, bring the good news (Rom 10, 15). Who can say, in fact, what vast horizons the means of social communication have opened up to the universal and simultaneous diffusion of the saving Word? [...]. This means that the action of Evangelization today must be thought of with a wide and modern outlook: in methods, in works, in organization and formation of the workers of the Gospel."

27. SYNOD OF BISHOPS - 1974, on Evangelization: Declaration of the Synodal Fathers In Spiritu Sancto (25th October 1974: Enchiridion Vaticanum, V, 1979, no. 619):

"9. [...] The communication of the Gospel [...] takes place through word, work and life, each closely connected and determined by various, almost constitutive, elements of the hearers of the Word of God: that is, their needs and desires, their way of speaking, hearing, thinking, judging and entering into contact with others [...]. Furthermore, the development of the means of social communication has opened new ways to evangelization in keeping with the ways in which people of today think and act."

28. PAUL VI, Address at conclusion of Synod of Bishops - 1974, on Evangelization (26th October 1974: AAS 66 [1974], 635):

"This Synod [...] has been positive, because there exists today in the Church an awareness, a deeply felt sense of the additional duty of using all the external means that art, life and technology today put at our disposal, in order to spread the joyful news."

29. SECRETARIAT FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY, Orientations and Suggestions for the application of the conciliar Decree Nostra aetate (lst December 1974: AAS 67 [1975], 73). On the training of educators:

"Information in these questions should look to all levels of teaching and of the education of the Christian. Among the means of information, particular importance attaches to [ ... ] the media of social communication (press, radio, cinema, television). The efficacious use of these media presupposes a specific training of teachers and educators in schools, as well as in seminaries and universities."

30. SECRETARIAT OF STATE, Letter to the President of OCIC, Lucien Labelle (4th April 1975):

"The clergy and the responsible laity ought to feel themselves spurred to bring home to the world of the cinema the values which are truly human and in harmony with the Gospel, in opposition to contrary ideologies, and to make the ecclesial institutions which coordinate this apostolate more efficient."

31. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, on the evangelization of the modern world (8th December 1975: AAS 68 [1976], 5). The sections quoted treat of the adaptation and fidelity of the language (used in evangelization) to local conditions, and of the preparation of those who evangelize:

"63. The individual Churches must make their own the substance of the evangelical message. Without any sacrifice of the essential truths they must transpose this message into an idiom which will be understood by the people they serve, and thus proclaim it. The Churches must make this transposition with all the judgment, care, reverence and competence which the nature of the task demands in fields relating to the sacred liturgy, to catechetics, to the formulation of theological principles, to the secondary ecclesial structures and to the ministry. When we speak of idiom we must be understood to mean not so much an explanation of the words or a literary style as an anthropological and cultural adaptation.

73. Careful preparation is essential for all workers in the field of evangelization and it is especially necessary for those who devote themselves to the ministry of the Word. Inspired by an ever deeper appreciation of the nobility and richness of the word of God, they whose function it is to proclaim the word must exercise every care to ensure that their words are dignified, well-chosen and adapted to their audience. Everyone knows the vital importance of the art of speaking in these days. Surely, therefore, preachers and catechists cannot neglect it. It is our earnest desire that in every church the bishops provide suitable instruction for all the ministers of the Word. If this education is undertaken seriously it will not only develop their self-confidence but will also serve to increase their zeal to preach Jesus Christ in our times."

32. SYNOD OF BISHOPS - 1977, on Catechesis in our time. Propositions read during the 15th General Congregation, 21st October 1977, and approved in the 16th on 22nd October 1977:

"The instruments of communication available today offer to catechesis an opportunity which cannot be passed up [...]. An enormous number of Christians are subjected to the influence of these instruments, without being prepared to react in a critical spirit. These instruments, especially radio and television, are the unique means for reaching places and persons, even those distant, emarginated, or in one way or another impeded in religious freedom from taking part in the life of the Church. These media have great weight in the formation of public opinion; the catechesis should use them in a correct and efficient manner, educating the Christians so that they make use of them while keeping their critical sense alert so as to neutralize any possible effects which might be harmful [...]. Suitable personnel should go on being prepared, both religiously and technically, to go into this kind of apostolate and handle it efficiently. (Proposition XX)"

33. PAUL VI, Message for the 12th World Communications Day, on the theme Rights and duties of receivers (23rd April 1978: AAS 70 [1978], 341):

"[...] If it is true that the future of the human family depends largely on its manner of using the communications media, then it is necessary that training of 'recipients' should be regarded as a priority both in the sphere of pastoral ministry and in educational work generally.

The first steps in media education ought to be taken within the family. It should then continue in the schools. The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council imposed this as a specific obligation on Catholic schools of all grades (cf. Decree Inter mirifica, 16) and on Associations of Christian inspiration engaged in education. The Decree added the following: 'To bring this about more promptly and effectively, Catholic teachings and policies regarding media are to be presented and explained in catechetical manuals" (ibid.). Teachers must remember that they are working in a context in which their pupils are exposed daily to ever so many programmes and transmissions touching in one way or another on faith and moral principles, and that they need therefore to have constant clarifications or corrections made for them."

34. JOHN PAUL I, Discourse to the Roman clergy after his election (7th September 1978: L'Osservatore Romano, 1st October 1978):

"4. The 'great' discipline requires a suitable climate. It is first of all recollection [...]. Around us there is continual movement, people talking, newspapers, radio, television. With discipline and balance becoming a priest, we priests have to say: 'Beyond certain limits, for me who am a priest of the Lord, you don't exist; I have got to take a bit of silence for my soul; I detach myself from you to unite myself with my God'. To feel their priest habitually united to God, today, is the desire of many of the good faithful."

35. JOHN PAUL II, Message to UNDA on the 50th anniversary of its foundation (25th October 1978: L'Osservatore Romano, 28th October 1978). On radio and television:

"[...] Evangelization must be done through a thoroughly competent and professional use of radio, television and the audiovisual media [...]. This is a noble and deeply Christian aim, and the Pope is with you in your conviction that it can only be served worthily by a professionalism which admits of nothing carelessly prepared [...]."

36. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana on studies in the Universities and Ecclesiastical Faculties (29th April 1979: AAS 71 [1979], 469). In Part I: Common norms, Title VIII: Teaching aids, one reads:

"Art. 55, - 1. The Faculty must also provide technical aids, audiovisuals, etc., which will be useful in teaching.

- 2. In accordance with the particular nature and purpose of the University or Faculty, there shall be research facilities and scientific laboratories, and also other aids necessary for the carrying out of its object."

37. S. CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Instruction In ecclesiasticam futurorum, on liturgical formation in seminaries (3rd June 1979: Enchiridion Vaticanum, VI, 1980, p. 1044). In Part II: The teaching of the sacred liturgy in seminaries, no. 58:

"58. It is particularly necessary that the students shall be taught the art of speaking and expressing themselves with gesture and actions, also that they shall master the use of the instruments of social communication. In liturgical celebration, in fact, it is of maximum importance that the faithful shall comprehend not only what the priest says or recites - whether it be homily, orations or prayers, - but also the reality which he must express by gesture and actions. Training for this takes such great importance in the renewed liturgy that it merits special care."

38. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae on catechesis in our time (16th October 1979: AAS 71 [ 1979], 1277):

"46. From the oral teaching by the Apostles and the letters circulating among the Churches down to the most modern ways and means, catechesis has not ceased to look for the most suitable ways and means for its mission, with the active participation of the communities and at the urging of the pastors. This effort must continue.

I think immediately of the great possibilities offered by the means of social communication and the means of group communication: television, radio, the press, records, tape-recordings - the whole series of audiovisual means. The achievements in these spheres are such as to encourage the greatest hope. Experience shows, for example, the effect had by instruction given on radio or television, when it combines a high aesthetic level and rigorous fidelity to the Magisterium. The Church now has many opportunities for considering these questions - as, for instance, on Social Communications Day - and it is not necessary to speak of them at length here, in spite of their prime importance."

39. S. CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Letter to local Ordinaries on Spiritual training in the seminaries (6th January 1980: Enchiridion Vaticanum, VII, 1982, p. 68). In Part II: Orientations, no. 3: The word of the cross: "the spiritual sacrifices":

"[...] a priest cannot see everything, listen to everything, say everything [ ... ] . The seminary ought to have made him capable, in interior freedom, to make sacrifices and to observe an intelligent and loyal personal discipline."

40. S. CONGREGATION FOR SACRAMENTS AND DIVINE WORSHIP, Decree Ordo lectionum missae on the readings of the Mass (21st January 1981: Enchiridion Vaticanum, VII, 1982, p. 922). In Chapter II: The celebration of the liturgy of the word, of Part I: The Word of God in the celebration of the Mass, no. 34:

"[...] Care should be taken to see that the lectors are provided, at the ambo, with sufficient light to read the text, and they should be able, according to opportunity, to avail of the modern technical instruments so that the faithful can hear without straining".

41. Code of Canon Law, promulgated by John Paul II on 25th January 1983 with the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges, came into force on 27th November 1983. Of the nine Canons dealing with the instruments of social communications - 666, 747, 761, 779, 804, 822, 823, 1063 and 1369 - we give here only the five which in some manner make reference to the specific training of the clergy.

In Book II: on The People of God: Part III: Institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life: Chapter IV: The obligations and rights of Institutes and of their members:

"Canon 666. In using the means of social communication, a necessary discretion is to be observed. Members are to avoid whatever is harmful to their vocation and dangerous to the chastity of a consecrated person."

In Book III: on The teaching office of the Church

"Canon 747, - 1. It is the obligation and inherent right of the Church, independent of any human authority, to preach the Gospel to all peoples, using for this purpose even its own means of social communication [...].

- 2. The Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgements about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls."

In Book III: on The teaching office of the Church, Title I: The ministry of the Divine Word:

"Canon 761. While pride of place must be given always to preaching and catechetical instruction, all the available means of proclaiming Christian doctrine are to be used: the exposition of doctrine in schools, in institutes of higher learning, at conferences and meetings of all kinds; public declarations by lawful authority on the occasion of certain events; the printed word and other means of social communication."

In Book III, Title I, Chapter II: on Catechetical formation:

"Canon 779. Catechetical formation is to be given by employing all those aids, educational resources and means of communication which seem the more effective in securing that the faithful, according to their character, capability, age and circumstances of life, may be more fully steeped in Catholic teaching and prepared to put it in practice".

In Book III, Title IV: The means of social communication and books in particular:

"Canon 822, - 1. In exercising their office the pastors of the Church, availing themselves of a right which belongs to the Church, are to make an ample use of the means of social communication.

- 2. Pastors are also to teach the faithful that they have the duty of working together so that the use of the means of social communication may be imbued with a human and Christian spirit.

- 3. All Christ's faithful, especially those who in any way take part in the management or use of the media, are to be diligent in assisting pastoral action, so that the Church can more effectively exercise its office through these means".

42. JOHN PAUL II, Message for the 19th World Communications Day (19th May 1985), on the theme Social communications for Christian formation of youth (15th April 1985: L'Osservatore Romano, 27th April 1985, p. 5). These two extracts contain one of the Magisterium's first mentions of technotronics and a very frequently repeated call for formation, both theoretical and practical, of the students in seminaries:

"The world of social communications is engaged today in a development which is dizzying in its extreme complexity, a development whose ultimate unfolding cannot be foreseen (we talk nowadays of a technotronic age, to indicate the growing interaction between technology and electronics); and in this complex world we encounter not a few problems, connected with the elaboration of a new world order of information and communication, in interplay with the prospects opened up by the employment of satellites and the conquering of space.

We are speaking of a revolution which not only implies a change in the systems and techniques of communication, but involves the whole cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person [...].

[...]. This evidently calls for:

1. A profound educational action, in the family, in the school, in the parish, through the catechism, to instruct and guide the young to a balanced and disciplined use of the mass media, helping them to form a critical judgement, illumined by faith, on what they see, hear and read (cf. Inter mirifica, nos 10, 16; Communio et progressio, nos 67-70, 107);

2. A careful and specific practical and theoretical training in the seminaries [...] not only to secure an adequate acquaintance with the instruments of social communication, but also to realize their undoubted potential for strengthening dialogue in charity and reinforcing the bonds of unity (cf. Communio et progressio, nos 108 , 110 , 115- 117)."




The apparent complexity of this Index should not daunt nor discourage the reader. It does but reflect the interdisciplinary nature that characterizes the science and the study of human communication, and in particular the science and study of modern mass media communication in its complexity and with regard to each individual medium, especially if the study be conducted with human-cultural and Christian-moral intentions. One could say that all the human sciences, more or less directly, meet and mingle in their flow: from semiology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, social and cultural anthropology... to pedagogy, didactics, technology, economics, law, the visual, musical, narrative and dramatic arts...; let alone, - above all for those destined for the apostolate - theology, especially moral and pastoral.

Obviously, an exhaustive study of each and every mass medium and of each and every discipline mentioned above is not even thinkable. It is not for nothing that the experts in the use of the mass media generally limit themselves to making a thorough study of one or other medium or discipline in line with their own interests and cultural or professional possibilities. The same applies to works published about these matters: they are usually essays or research in selected areas. The specific scope of this Guide, however, which is the formation at once human-cultural, Christian-moral of future priests in the right use - firstly personal, then pastoral -, of all the instruments of social communication necessarily involves an adequate interdisciplinary formulation both at the base level of the receivers (cf. Guide, n. 16), but also and above all at the second level: the pastoral level. These then become a preparation for two distinct areas, the one being the theoretical and practical preparation for work in the mass media: journalists, film-makers, radio and television operators, critics, etc., whilst the other aims at academic erudition for the formation of writers and teachers of the individual disciplines.

In practice, in the integral formation at the first level, the basic level, it would be better to draw selectively from this Index: at least nn. 1-6 on human communication in general; nn. 9-11 on the modern instruments; n. 12 on their actual evolution; nn. 13-16 on their functions; n. 19 on the ecclesiastical Magisterium in the matter; and n. 32 on the use of mass media communication on the part of those in the consecrated states of life. Exposition and explanation could be sufficiently given in twenty or so classes or lectures at the beginning of seminary life, and then they can be updated and applied in practical exercises in the individual media (cf. Guide, nn. 15 and 18b), adequate to their levels of study and throughout their time in the seminary.

On the other hand, for formation at the second level, the pastoral, it is necessary that all the matters be fully treated by those who are competent (cf. Guide, n. 23): either in a congruous number of lessons and exercises distributed in accordance with the affinity of the material throughout the curriculum of philosophy and theology (cf. Guide, n. 26), or structured separately in a special programme in which the student could eventually study thoroughly and write a final thesis on a particular topic at the "specialized" level that amongst other things would qualify him for teaching the first two levels (cf. Guide, nn. 9 and 27).  


1. Intentional communication: notions and terminologies. Semiotics. Signs/codes. Coding/decoding. Denotation/connotation.

2. Relative suitability of communication of signs/codes. In relation to content expressed/communicated, to audiences, to the type of effectiveness, to feedback.

3. Evolution in time. In antiquity: traditional communication. From gesture to spoken word, to written word, to ideograph, to alphabetic script, to typescript.

4. Evolution in time. In the modern era: instrumental communication. From the newspaper, to cinema, to radio, to television and the global technotronic communication of today. Towards informatics and telematics. Interaction between technological development, sources of energy and socio-cultural evolution.

5. Research and study on the instruments of social communication. Origin and development. Theories and propositions. All-round evaluation of the results achieved. Attention to current terminology: mass media, mass communications, audiovisuals, discussion techniques... and to that used by the Council: "instruments of social communications".

6. Some classical take-off points: H. D. Lasswell and his plan or formula; C. E. Shannon - W. Weaver and the Theory of Information; H. D. Lasswell, B. Berelson, A. A. Moles, E. Morin... and Content analysis; E. Katz - P. Lazarsfeld, R. K. Merton and the Two Step Flow of Communication; J. K. Klapper and selective exposition-perception-memorization; " The media is the message" and the "Global Village" of H. Innis and M. McLuhan; the "Future Shock" of A. Toffer...

7. Psycho-social phenomena connected with mass media. Socialization. Social mobility. Reduction of privacy. Informal-global-acculturation. A society of pluralistic opinion.

8. Fronts for/against the cultural and moral effects of the instruments of social communication. Mass-elites and "different" cultures. The School of Frankfurt: T.W. Adorno, M. Horkheimer, H. Marcuse..., and the "others": possible agreement.

9. The individual mass media: THE PRESS. Technical development: from Gutenberg to photo-electronic print composition. The various kinds. Information/current events and "the news". Journalistic organization: national and world. How to "read" a newspaper.

10. The individual mass media: CINEMA. Technical evolution. Cinema "language" ("specific to film medium") and cinema-vehicle. The film show between art and ideology. Elements of film communication. Theories on iconic suggestion. Genesis of film. Economic-industrial structures in the country and in the world. How to "read" a film. Film criticism: partial and total.

11. The individual mass media: RADIO-TELEVISION. Technical notions: evolution and standards. Live and recorded. Relations with press-information and with the cinema-show. Critical enjoyment of radio and television.

12. The future is here. Cybernetics, electronics, informatics and telematics. From the transistor to miniaturization and to laser. Disc and audio- and video-casettes. Computers, memories, databanks and satellites. Towards instantaneous-ubiquitous communication.

13. The functions: ENTERTAINMENT. Oligopolistic tendency of the instruments of social communication. Direct participation (sport, tourism) and vicarious experiences. Passive, time-squandering escapism and aesthetic-cultural "re-creation". From working time to free time and liberating time.

14. The functions: INFORMATION. Notions and terms. The news coefficients. Sources and vehicles. The agencies: national and international. Historical development: from teaching-culture to actuality; from fact to law. Situation today and its social function The new "world order of information"; the S. Nora - A. Minc and S. MacBride reports.

15. The functions: PROPAGANDA AND ADVERTISING. Concepts and terms: autonomous or by insertion, explicit or editorial, direct or indirect (and subliminal). The poster. The modern mechanisms of persuasion: from empiric to systematic-motivational (Pavlov, Freud...). Development in time: from occasional to permanent. Marketing. Ideological propaganda and the mass media in recent "regimes". The slogan. Interaction between advertising and the instruments of social communication today.

16. The function: PUBLIC OPINION. Notions; "opinion" and truth/certainty; "public" and non-public. Inconsistent accepted meaning of terminologies, and factual analysis (elements and factors) of the phenomenon. Development in time and today's psycho-social space. Elementary notions of opinion polling. Quantitive or motivational inquiry; indirect or direct; by survey or by sample. Weakness, sorting out and elaboration of the data. Conditions for reliability. 


17. The religious fact as communication. In cultural anthropology. In Old Testament Revelation: from oral to written transmission. Socio-religious tensions prevailing in Jesus' time. In the Church of the past: from manuscript to printed transmission. Socio-cultural and politico-religious problems arising from Gutenberg's print. Communication and Church in the era of the instruments of social communication.

18. Church practice and discipline in the past: regarding traditional means of expression/communication. The figurative arts. The theatre. The manuscript and the origins of censorship: repressive and preventive. Publishing: the imprimatur and regime of privileges. The Index. Relating to the instruments of social communication: the newspaper, preventions and delays; "evil press" and "good press" and not "information". The cinema: from diffidence to acceptance. Radio-television: from contents to the instruments. Relating to the informatized society, databanks.

19. Mass media and the Magisterium. Characteristics and values. The principal documents: Vigilanti cura of Pius XI; the Discourses on the ideal film and Miranda prorsus of Pius XII, and above all, the Council's Inter mirifica, the Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio, and the post-conciliar Code of Canon Law.

20. Towards a theology of the instruments of social communication. Useful or necessary? Requisites for a specific theology. Proposals put forward. Elements in the Magisterium: from Miranda prorsus to the "thesis" and models of Communio et Progressio. 


21. Innate rights and duties of the Church: to use and to teach about. Nature, ambits and topics. Technical and juridical conditions, factual situations and making effective use of communications media. Appropriate aid/subsidies where needed.

22. Conditions in order to be effective. Globality of action. United effort and pooling of expertise across the board: clergy, religious and laity. Up to date information, equipment, etc., and adequate economic means. Preferential choices: positive rather than negative; a human and Christian training: of receivers, promoters, of the pastoral workers themselves.

23. Ecclesiastical and ecclesial institutions. In general: precincts and services; structures and objects; conditions for efficiency. In particular: in the Roman Curia: the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications. At international level: for the Press, UCIP (Union Catholique Internationale de la Presse); for Cinema, OCIC (Organisation Catholique Internationale du Cinema); for Radio and Television, UNDA. At national and (inter) diocesan levels: the respective offices of these organizations.

24. Mass media and preaching. Diction and gesture. Objections regarding the efficacy of the live word and of the technical media. Replies of the Magisterium: in Inter mirifica, in Communio et Progressio, in the Pastoral Directory of the bishops, in the general Catechetical Directory, in the new Code of Canon Law. " Preaching" and not propaganda-advertising, "message" and not protagonism.

25. Pastoral aids close to mass media. Theatre, figurative arts, publishing and graphics, songs and music, discs and cassettes, groupmedia, multimedia and minimedia...

26. Mass media, liturgy and administration of the sacraments. Matters arising from broadcasts, "presence" and participation. Existing norms, especially concerning Holy Mass. Open cases: radio-television and the sacrament of matrimony, the sacrament of penance, "participation" in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Possible future norms.

27. Information (knowledge of notions in no. 14 presupposed). Declaration of rights in International and European Charters; in the more recent documents of the Magisterium. Basis, topics, extension and limits of rights; relative duties: for promoters and for receivers of media. Objectivity - truth and completeness in "honest" information. Professional ethics for information people at their different levels. Duty and praxis regarding informing oneself on matters of right/law. In telematics: rights/duties regarding privacy, and data banks.

28. Propaganda/advertising (knowledge of topics in no. 15 presupposed). Moral and pastoral problematic regarding propaganda (ideological): monopoly and oligopoly in mass media and counter-whisper propaganda. Advertising: open questions - professional conduct regarding content, methods of persuasion, giving privileged treatment to certain media and threatening the survival of others. Receivers: against consumerism and "massification".

29. Public Opinion (the notions in no. 16 are presupposed). The social, moral and religious relevance of the phenomenon, and the consequent personal duties/responsibilities of "formers", animators and "carriers" of "public opinions". Opinion leaders. Public Relations. Identification and exploitation of lawful and reasonable means, or only of "means that work".

30. A theologico-pastoral question connected with the mass media: information in the Church. Discipline of the secret, or "City on a hill"? A look at history, and reasons why information should today be made available as a matter of course. Rights, duties and conditions for validity in the post-conciliar Magisterium. In practice: offices and vehicles of information in the Church: means and personnel.

31. Other live questions about the mass media: the so-called "public opinion" within the Church. Room for expression of opinion, even theological opinion, in the Church. Difference between free dialogue on matters of opinion and "public opinion" in the Magisterium. Justification, topics, conditions and appropriate "places" for the first-named. Factors working against the second: topics, objects, the dynamics of training, the dynamic of collision. "Public opinion" and the efficacy of the Magisterium today.

32. Mass media and those in the consecrated state. Evolution of disciplinary attitudes: "not of the world", "in the world but not of it". Presumption of danger and human-pastoral promotion. Rules from the outside and personal discipline. Quantitative and qualitative choices, community and personal options. Corrections and compensations.

33. General pastoral adaptation: didactic. In the technico-iconic mass culture: an altered humanistic ideal, centres of interest of receivers different: modes of expression-communication and logical procedures change: from deduction to induction. How to arrive, nonetheless, at the necessary certainties.

34. General pastoral adaptation: pedagogical. In the crisis of authority: from imposed rules to persuasion by discussion. In an environment which no longer protects: from external defences to acquired internal defences. In situations of advanced socialization: morality and spirituality from individualistic to communitarian. 


35. The Press (further to what has been raised in no. 9). An honest Press. Journalists and State interference: protection, prevention, repression and interference with ownership: co-direction and joint management, and freedom of opinion-expression; interference from advertisers. Social responsibility of receivers. The Catholic Press; today's understanding of the term, and proper aims. "Official" organ of the hierarchy, or of opinion? To inform or to preach? Problems of press workers, duties of readers. Discussion forum (readers' letters page).

36. The Cinema (further to points dealt with in no. 10). Moral and pastoral considerations regarding cinematographic realities: working in production-distribution-management? Edifying films and religious films. Catholic cinemas. Morality of the items filmed: actual human behaviour, and how represented; thesis of a film and suggestive particulars. Moral situation of the spectator: choice of films, and rules regarding "film ratings" . Film criticism and cinematographic culture. Cineforums.

37. Radio/television (further to points dealt with in n°. 11). Today's pluralistic society, related programmes and the possibility of being selective. The stand taken by educators. Responsibility of receivers (feedback). Upright promoters and "Catholics" in lay transmissions: conscience and competence. Ecclesiastical consultants. "Catholic" programmes: possibilities and limits. Radio and Television Forums.




-Cf. Plus XlI's, Miranda prorsus, 24-25.


-Cf. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Dei verbum, 4 and 7.


-Cf. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Inter mirifica, 1.


-Pius XII, Miranda prorsus, 1.


-Pius XI, Vigilanti cura, 1.


-VATICAN COUNCIL II, Inter mirifica, 2.


-Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio, 11.


-Ibid., 8.


-Cf. Appendix I.


-Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, 68; cf. Appendix I, no. 18.


-Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio, 111; cf. Appendix I, no. 22.


-Communio et Progressio, 183, says: "This Pastoral Instruction lays down some guidelines chosen after consideration of the general situation that prevails in social communications. As things stand at present, it would not be reasonable try to be more precise and detailed... It is obvious that directions and practical applications, as well as pastoral guidelines, will have to be adapted to the different conditions that prevail in different places - depending on their degree of technical progress and their social situation. They will change too with the changing conditions of the media and of their inherent laws... Those who are responsible for pastoral planning must stay flexible and be always willing to try to keep pace with new discoveries in this field."


-The second Schema for a conciliar Constitution on the instruments of social communication, discussed in the Hall of the Council during its first period, had the following Declaration: "Necessarium visum est Secretariatus sodalibus peritorum in hac re virorum sententiae obsecundare atque ad designanda nova haec inventa nomen proponere INSTRUMENTA COMMUNICATIONIS SOCIALIS, in posterum etiam in iurisprudentia ecclesiastica et in pastoralibus documentis utendum. Quod nomen, in primis annuit instrumentorum originem cum technicis artibus conexam; deinde actionem instrumentalem qua contentum spirituale, ab auctore humano compositum, aliis communicatur; deinde vim quam celeriter in totam societatem exercet" (Acta Synodalia S.ti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II, Vol. V, Periodus Prima, Pars III, p. 375).


-Of the nine which deal with the subject (cf. Appendix I, 41) seven canons use the exact term "instrumenta comunicationis socialis": 761, 779, 804, 822, 823, 1063 and 1369. Only in canons 666 and 747 is the less exact media used.



-The drafters of the second Schema just quoted understood the term socialization in the sense accepted by John XXIII in his Mater et Magistra, 58: "One of the aspects typical of our time is socialization...: the progressive multiplication of ways in which people living in the same community relate to one another, associated in various ways of life and activity, in a context of juridical institutionalization, private or public"; the term was then taken over, more or less, in Gaudium et Spes, 6, 25, 42 and 75. So the instruments of social communication came to be seen as primary factors in this socialization, from one point of view, and as typical communication of bodies of humanity already heavily socialized, from another point of view.


-Once attention has been drawn to this more exact conciliar terminology, there is no objection to using, for the sake of brevity, the more popularly used mass media (and massmediology). In fact, this is done in several documents of the Magisterium, and in this Guide.


-Inter mirifica, 16; cf. Appendix I, no. 11.


-Communio et Progressio, 106 and 111; cf. ibid., no. 22.


-Keeping in mind that what the Council Decree declares, teaches or proposes refers exclusively to these instruments. For instance: the use of "the instruments of social communications in the many forms of apostolate", in connection with the obligation "to preach" (no. 13), and concerning the celebration of the annual World Day "to strengthen more effectively the various forms of the Church's apostolate in the field of social communications" (no. 18); also bear in mind that it is exclusively to these instruments and their problems that the competency of the ecclesiastical or Catholic institutions referred to in nos. 21 and 22 of the Decree extends.


-Inter mirifica, 9. On the subject, cf. Appendix I, nos. 7: 59 sq.; 9: 703; 11: 3, 9, 16; 19; 22: 15sq.


-"Parents are to be mindful of their duty to watch carefully, lest shows, printed matter, etc., offensive to faith or morals penetrate the home or lest their children become exposed to such things outside the home" (Inter mirifica, 10). "Parents and teachers should urge children to make their own choice even if the educators should reserve at times the final decision to themselves" (Communio et Progressio, 67). "It is useful for educators to take note of some of the broadcasts, films and publications that most interest the young in their care. They can then discuss them together and this helps to develop the child's critical powers. As for the more difficult or even controversial artistic productions, here the parent should, at the right moment, help his children to discover the human values in the production and to interpret its details within the context of the work as a whole" (ibid., 68).


-"It is the task of catechesis to educate the Christians to discern the nature and value of what is put forward by the mass media" (Directorium Catechistieum Generale, 11th April 1971: AAS, 64 [1972], p. 97). See also Inter mirifica, 16; Communio et Progressio, 108, 130-131.


-See Appendix I, nos. 11: 16-22: 69, 117; 33.


-Communio et Progressio, 67; cf.ibid., no. 22.


-See Ratio fundamentalis, no. 89, and Communio et Progressio, 66 (in Appendix I nos 18 and 22: 66).


-"Training should include a practical consideration of the special nature of each medium and of its status in the local community and how it can best be utilized" (Communio et Progressio, 64)


-"The media can deepen and enrich contemporary culture... and also make it possible to cater for differing needs and interests since, in a professional and attractive manner,they can produce the fruits of every type of artistic expression. People, then, will find no difficulty in using the media to deepen and refine their cultural life, as long as they supplement this use with the exercise of personal reflection and an exchange of views with others" (Communio et Progressio, 50). "The media are themselves new factors in contemporary culture... But as well as enriching culture, they can occasionally degrade it. They often play for the applause of the lowest cultural levels of their audience. And because they take so much of modern man's time, they can easily divert him from higher and more profitable cultural pursuits. An unrelieved diet of productions geared to the lowest cultural level within a population would tend to debase the taste of those who have already attained a higher level" (ibid., no. 53).


-"Fidelity to the norms of morality... obliges them (receivers) to find out without delay how productions are rated by competent authorities and letting their conscience be guided accordingly" (Inter mirifica, 9). "Reviews of radio and television broadcasts, of films and illustrated magazines can be of help in cultural and religious education. They will also help those who wish to make a wise choice of what the media have to offer, particularly for the family. In this connection, particular attention should be paid to reviews that have real competence. These include assessment of the worth, the morality and the Christian value of films, broadcasts and writings issued under the pastoral care of bishops in different regions by specially appointed boards" (Communio et Progressio, 112).


-JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to religious women, L'Osservatore Romano, 12th November 1978.


-Bearing in mind, especially, the norms given by PAUL VI in Sacerdotalis caelibatus, and the admonitions then given by this Congregation for putting them into practice: see Appendix I, nos. 4, 16, 23; and in general, for prudent personal use, nos. 7: 154; 8; 12: 4; 17; 39; 41: canon 666.


-"It is the duty of superiors to train the youth to a true and mature obedience trusting in Christ, who required obedience from his followers, but first presented himself as an example of this virtue and made himself, in us, the principle of this obedience" (Ratio fundamentalis, no. 49). "Let them learn to cultivate... the spirit of poverty requested by the Church today with such insistence, and so necessary in the carrying out of a pastoral mission... While they are not bound, as religious are, to renounce material goods, they should none the less endeavour to acquire, as men of the spirit, the true liberty and docility of the children of God and arrive at the possession of that spiritual heritage which is necessary for a proper relationship with the world and with earthly goods. Also, following the example of Christ..., being already accustomed to the generous renunciations of what is superfluous, they should be capable of bearing witness to poverty, simplicity and austerity of life" (ibid., no. 50).


-See Appendix 1, nos. 7: 151; ll: 15; 18: 68; 22: 106 sqq.; 35.


-VATICAN COUNCIL II, Ad gentes divinitus, nos. 16, 19, 22; Gaudium et spes, nos. 44, 58, 62; Unitatis redintegratio, nos. 4, 17; Orientalium Ecclesiarum, nos. 4, 5, 6; Pius XII, Encycl. Evangelii praecones, 2nd June 1951: AAS, 43 (1951), pp. 521sqa.; JOHN XXIII, Encycl. Princeps Pastorum, 28th November 1959: AAS, 51 (1959), pp. 843 sqq.; PAUL VI, homily Hi amicti sunt, at canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, 18th October 1964; Insegnamenti, II, pp. 588-589; Motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, 6th August 1966: AAS, 58 (1966), p. 786, III, no. 2; Discourse Greetings to you to the bishops of Asia, 28th November 1970: Insegnamenti, VIII, pp. 1215 sqq.; JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Const. Sapientia christiana, 15th April 1979: AAS, 71 (1979), pp. 472 sqq., 492 (Foreword and art. 68); Discourse Vous êtes to the bishops of Zaire meeting in Kinshasa, 3rd May 1980: Insegnamenti, III, 1, pp. 1084 sqq.; Discourse I am overjoyed, to the bishops of Nigeria, 5th February 1982: Insegnamenti, V, 1, pp. 463 sqq.


-"Without this knowledge an effective apostolate is impossible in a society which is increasingly conditioned by the media" (Communio et Progressio, 111, which recalls to mind the Ratio fundamentalis, par. 4 and no. 88). "Modern men are immersed in the tide of social communication when they are forming their profound convictions and adopting their attitudes. This is as true of religious convictions and attitudes as it is of any other sort" (ibid., 127). But already on 16th June 1957 the CONGREGATION OF THE COUNCIL raised the point about this necessity: "au sein d'un monde qui se renouvelle, et dont les techniques modernes ont bouleversé la face... d'adapter les méthodes (de l'enseignment religieux) aux conditions psychologiques de l'homme d'aujourd'hui". PAUL VI, then, in the Message for the 8th World Communications Day, 16th May 1974 (L'Osservatore Romano, 17th May 1974), spoke of a "search for a renewal of the methods of apostolate"; and in the Allocution of 22nd June 1974 (L'Osservatore Romano, 23rd June 1974) recalled the obligation for "a pastoral training: searching and questioning... how to give a more effective service to the world in which we are called to live and work in the name of Christ; and a doctrinal training... adapted to the times, such as would assist towards a better comprehension of the world".


-"The world of social communications is engaged today in a development which is dizzying in its extreme complexity, a development whose ultimate unfolding cannot be foreseen (we talk nowadays of a technotronic age to indicate the growing interaction between technology and electronics), and in this complex world we encounter not a few problems, connected with the elaboration of a new world order of information and communication, in interplay with the prospects opened up by the employment of satellites and the conquering of space. We are speaking of a revolution which not only implies a change in the systems and techniques of communication, but involves the whole cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person... The newspaper, the book, the disc, the film, the radio, and the television in particular, and the ever more sophisticated computer, these already represent an important point of contact, even if not the only one, between the young person and the external reality within which his daily life is lived" (JOHN PAUL II, Message for the 19th World Communications Day, 15th April 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 27th April 1985). For the necessary specific updating of the clergy, cf. Appendix 1, nos. 7: 154; 11: 15; 12: 5; 18: 68; 22: 110 and 111; 29 and 32.


Inter mirifica's (no. 14) observation that "the honorable art of drama is today widely accessible thanks to modern means of communication" is echoed by Communio et Progressio (no 158): "The theatre... still today commands a large audience, not only of those who go to plays, but also of those who follow drama on radio and television".


-"It is man himself who must be saved: it is mankind that must be renewed. It is man, therefore, who is the key to this discussion, man considered whole and entire, with body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will" (Gaudium et Spes, 3).


-CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Document on The theological formation of future priests, 22nd February 1976, nos 76, 77.


-Communio et Progressio, 8. Note also no. 6: "These technical advances have the high purpose of bringing men into closer contact with one another"; no. 11: "Communication is more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion. At its most profound level, it is the giving of self in love"; no. 73: "The purpose of social communication is to accelerate every sort of human progress and to increase cooperation among men until there exists a genuine communion among them"; and finally, no. 102: "The Church hopes... that the dignity of the human person, both communicator and recipient, will be better understood and respected. In this way this social interplay that makes neighbours of men can lead to true communion."


-Inter mirifica, 18 and also Communio et Progressio: "Every man who believes in God is invited to spend one particular day every year to pray and think about the future and the problems of the media. He is also invited to friendly meetings with the different sorts of professionals" (no 100); "This day has been designed specially to honour the professionals in the media and to encourage their cooperation" (no 167). See also Appendix I, nos 18 and 38.


-See Communio et Progressio, 106 and 111.


-Nor is it excluded that "the Catholic students can frequent the schools which teach practical disciplines, such as... the communications media, religious sociology as far as this applies itself to the observation of facts... It is for superiors to arrange this, having got the opinion of the students, according to the seminary regulations and the norms laid down by the Ordinary who has jurisdiction over it" (Ecumenical directory, no. 92, 13th April 1970: AAS, 62 [1970], p. 705).


-See Inter mirifica, 24 and Communio et Progressio, 187. 36 .


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