Archbishop to media: Influence culture for good

Catholic media invited to Mass with archbishop Jan. 26 at the Cathedral Basilica

Journalists research and report, design and discuss, and edit and engage in the process of disseminating news and information to the public. It’s a job known to influence opinions, and demands adherence to a strict code of truthfulness and accuracy.

To support communications professionals in their work, Archbishop Samuel Aquila will celebrate a special Mass for Catholic Journalists and Media Professionals at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver.

“Our culture is overwhelmingly shaped by what people hear and see on TV, in the newspaper, online, and on the radio,” Archbishop Aquila told the Denver Catholic Register. “If we want to know what is behind what people believe, most of the time those opinions can be traced back to what they saw or heard in the media.”

With such extraordinary influence, Catholics who work in the media “play a crucial role,” the archbishop said.

In March, the newly selected Pope Francis recognized the role of the media as an essential means of informing the world.

“Be assured that the Church, for her part, highly esteems your important work,” he said. “Your work calls for careful preparation, sensitivity and experience, like so many other professions, but it also demands a particular concern for what is true, good and beautiful.

“This is something we have in common since the Church exists to communicate precisely this,” he said.

A meaningful end-product must be the goal.

“Unfortunately in our 24-7 news cycle, journalists are often put into a position where they have to turn around very complicated stories in a short period of time,” Archbishop Aquila said. “This results in a very superficial product that sometimes does not address the more important issues at hand or fails to grasp the background for the decision. This is especially true in media coverage of religion.”

Journalists and media professionals must dedicate themselves to excelling at their work, he continued.

“Be thoughtful, creative, energetic, inspiring and most importantly, truthful,” he said. “It is also important for journalists not to impose their opinions on interviews and to always report in a way that is just.”

Whether in Catholic or secular media, there is opportunity to advance the good news of Jesus Christ.

“Much of the news you have access to … gives evidence that the world is in darkness and in desperate need for the light, truth and hope of the Gospel,” said Roxanne King, editor of the Denver Catholic Register. “We in Catholic media have the special privilege of informing, inspiring and engaging people with the Gospel and the Catholic Church.

“Catholic journalists working in other media,” she added, “have the great opportunity to share their Christian worldview with the secular world.”

All professionals in print, broadcast and online media are invited to the Mass.

“We hope all Catholic journalists and media professionals will join us,” King said. “In the past, the Register has had a Mass of Thanksgiving for our staffers, readers and advertisers … but this liturgy is open to all Catholic media professionals to thank God for the privilege of sharing our faith through our work—because our faith should inform our work whether we’re in Catholic or secular media.”

Journalists and media professionals are invited to sit together in a reserved section during the Mass, and attend a reception to follow in the cathedral basement. RSVP is encouraged by contacting Bethany Doss at 303-715-3230 or bethany.doss@archden.org.

Mass for Catholic Journalists and Media Professionals

When: 10:30 a.m. Jan. 26
Where: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan St., Denver
Reception: following Mass in cathedral basement
RSVP or questions: 303-715-3123 or bethany.doss@archden.org

Patron saint of journalists
The Mass is being celebrated Jan. 26, the first Sunday after the Jan. 24 feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists. St. Francis, who lived during the Protestant Reformation at the start of the 17th century, is a special intercessor for journalists because of the tracts he wrote and distributed to teach and evangelize the laity to counter the Reformation. Long before the Second Vatican Council, St. Francis preached the scriptural admonition that all people, not only religious and clergy, are called to holiness.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash