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What makes for a faithful Catholic media organization?

Real Time Reflection Question: What makes for a faithful Catholic media organization?

Opinion - Faithful Catholic media- Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala Published: June 09, 2010


I am very happy that we have a chance to have this conversation about what makes for a faithful Catholic media organization. I think this is a crucial question for the Church in North America in this time of unprecedented changes in media and telecommunications. It seems every month there is a new website or technology that appears. No one can keep up with everything. Not even we bishops, known as we are for our technical expertise!

All joking aside, I want to say very clearly that we bishops do not approach this conversation as if we have "the answer" to the question of what it means to be a faithful Catholic media organization. Rather, we are looking forward to a positive, constructive exchange of ideas. We expect to learn from you and your expertise as people immersed daily in the realm of media. Nor do we expect that there is a "one-size-fits-all" answer. But we do believe there is much to be learned by exploring the question together.

To sharpen our focus, let me start by saying what a faithful Catholic media is not. Today's secular media culture is often competitive and can have little regard for the damage done to people's lives and reputations. There is a tendency to be mean-spirited and engage in personal attacks. Many times the secular media present only a superficial rendering of a story, often choosing what is sensationalist over in-depth reporting.

While I think we can all agree that we do not want to see any of these qualities in our own publications, programs or Web sites, I think we have to admit that at times they are present. Avoiding them requires ongoing vigilance, since secular media and its influence are vast.

I also do not think that we should go to the other extreme and simply say that faithful Catholic media organizations are those who engage in apologetics to defend bishops at all costs. That is too simplistic and does not respect the intelligence of Catholics in North America. They deserve a Catholic media that takes a more nuanced perspective.

Lastly, I do not believe that faithful Catholic media organizations should present themselves as speaking for the Magisterium. Only the Magisterium can speak for the Magisterium. While this sounds self-evident, it bears saying because there appear to be some organizations who do not see this point.