no. 3 july - september 2004
th World Communications Day
The Media & the Family: A Risk & a Richness
A message from Pope John Paul II for the 38th World Communications Day stresses the ancipotal (double edged) nature of communications as related to the family. Entitled "The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness," the document examines "the exceptional opportunities for enriching the lives of individuals and families." But it also points out the new challenges arising from "the varied and often contradictory messages presented by the mass media."
Starting from the premise that "all communication has a moral dimension," the document states that "people grow or diminish in moral stature by the words which they speak and the messages which they chose to hear." The Pope links this to the need for discernment and wisdom in the use of media by communications professionals, parents, and educators. He writes "The media of social communications have an enormous positive potential for promoting sound human and family values and thus contributing to the renewal of society."
The full text of the message is at: carmelites.info/citoc
Sr. Maria Teresa Boschi, the prioress of the Carmelite monastery in Cerreto di Sorano (Italy) was one of the presenters at a conference on consecrated life and communications. The conference was held at the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum in March 2004.
Sr. Teresa’s area of reflection was "Community of the Contemplative Life" and her presentation was entitled "How the Various Means of Communications Assist in the Formation of a Contemplative Community."
"This is the task of each contemplative: to be prophetic. To speak in the name of God. To communicate His words. The various means of communications offer this possibility," said Sr. Teresa.
Other presenters included Archbishop John Foley of the Vatican Communications Office and various leaders in the field of communications.
CITOC will present a summary of Sr. Teresa’s presentation in its next "Communications" issue.
Every journalist should strive to seek the truth, enhance the dignity of the individual, and work for the common good, according to Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. According to published reports on Zenit, he highlighted those guiding principles as they are outlined by the Church’s magisterium in the education of communicators.
The archbishop spoke during the meeting on "Consecrated Life and the Culture of Communication," organized by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum along with St. Paul Publishers.
"All forms of social communication," he said, "evidence three basic principles: the priority of truth — we are never justified in recounting lies; the dignity of the individual — our communication should enhance and not diminish our innate human dignity; the common good — our communication should contribute to the good of the community and not harm it morally or in any other way."
"These three should be the dominant principles in our life," Archbishop Foley said. "If all communicators were always guided by these three principles, our world would be a happier place."
The Church should be engaging with society rather than retreating fearfully into a private world said British Carmelite Wilfrid McGreal according to a published report in the magazine The Tablet. The comments were made during the ceremony to launch the new website for the Catholic aid agency, Cafod, in London earlier this year. Wilfrid is the Prior of Aylesford Priory (UK) and vice-chairman of the communications committee of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
"The website and any communication by the Church should not be a private construct, not something that tries to go back to a golden age, not something to protect us against a hostile world but something to celebrate the fact that we have a message of hope and that we do trust in other people’s willingness to engage in dialogue," he said at the launch.
The Church should take its cue from Cafod and recognize that it is part of society, rather than rejecting the age as secular and withdrawing from it, Fr. McGreal said.
"There is no private world for us to go to. Rather we have to contribute to the shaping of society and realize that the Church, Cafod, anything that is international, has a duty to the whole of the human race. We are not there in any sectarian way, but out of love for this planet so that it might be a place where human beings can live in the fullness of dignity. There is the challenge," he said.
Cafod recently published a report exposing the poor working conditions in computer production in the developing world. It also issued the results of a new poll showing that three-quarters (3/4) of the British public believed that the computer is the electronic device with the biggest impact on their lives in the past decade.
The launch of the new website was a significant moment in Cafod’s development, its deputy director, Pat Jones, said at the launch. Asked how much it cost, she said it had required considerable resources and would need even more in the future. However, online donations had become an important source of income and the number of people choosing to give via the net was continuing to grow.
Religious Books Buck Trend
Book Sales Remain Flat Around the World
Worldwide sales figures for 2003, released in June 2004, indicate that total sales of consumer book products increased 6 percent for the year. Much of the increase can be accounted for by sales of audio books, juvenile titles, and non paper e-books, sold online via the internet. Adult hardbound books, adult paperbacks and mass-market paperbacks all show relatively flat revenues, in spite of price increases.
The one category of book to rise markedly was that of religious texts, with total sales of US$ 337.9 million, a 36.8 increase over the previous year.
The figures were reported by the New York Times in an article on July 8, 2004.