I usually do things backward. I start doing something first, and then, if it works, I start planning. Last of all, I look for intellectual underpinnings.
The Popes put out a lot of Helpful Documents, and most of them really are helpful and interesting. But first you have to find the applicable ones, and then you actually have to read them. Most people have trouble doing even the first, and I’m no exception to the rule. I have less excuse since vatican.va’s been up, though.
Anyway, today I followed a link from Fr. Corapi’s homepage to one of the Vatican II Council documents — a 1963 Decree by Paul VI called “Inter Mirifica” (Among the Wonderful). It’s one of the periodic documents that have come out from the Vatican over the course of the last 150 years which have encouraged the Church, collectively and individually, to use all possible forms of the media. I will accordingly inflict upon you some quotes — some because they’re good, and others to justify what I’ve already done!
Among the wonderful technological discoveries which men of talent, especially in the present era, have made with God’s help, the Church welcomes and promotes with special interest those which have a most direct relation to men’s minds and which have uncovered new avenues of communicating most readily news, views and teachings of every sort.
…The Church recognizes that these media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.
…The Catholic Church, since it was founded by Christ our Lord to bear salvation to all men and thus is obliged to preach the Gospel, considers it one of its duties to announce the Good News of salvation also with the help of the media of social communication and to instruct men in their proper use.
It is, therefore, an inherent right of the Church to have at its disposal and to employ any of these media insofar as they are necessary or useful for the instruction of Christians and all its efforts for the welfare of souls. It is the duty of Pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family. In addition, the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design.
…The prompt publication of affairs and events provides every individual with a fuller, continuing acquaintance with them, and thus all can contribute more effectively to the common good and more readily promote and advance the welfare of the entire civil society. Therefore, in society men have a right to information, in accord with the circumstances in each case, about matters concerning individuals or the community. The proper exercise of this right demands, however, that the news itself that is communicated should always be true and complete, within the bounds of justice and charity. In addition, the manner in which the news is communicated should be proper and decent. This means that in both the search for news and in reporting it, there must be full respect for the laws of morality and for the legitimate rights and dignity of the individual. For not all knowledge is helpful, but ‘it is charity that edifies.’
…Those who make use of the media of communications, especially the young, should take steps to accustom themselves to moderation and self-control in their regard. They should, moreover, endeavor to deepen their understanding of what they see, hear or read.
…All the children of the Church should join, without delay and with the greatest effort, in a common work to make effective use of the media of social communication in various apostolic endeavors, as circumstances and conditions demand.
…this sacred Synod is confident that its issuance of these instructions and norms will be gladly accepted and religiously kept by all the Church’s children. By using these helps they will experience no harm and, like salt and light, they will give savor to the earth and brighten the world. Moreover, the Synod invites all men of good will, especially those who have charge of these media, to strive to turn them solely to the good of society, whose fate depends more and more on their proper use.
St. Blog’s Parish: “Inter Mirifica”-compliant!
Interestingly, this document pretty clearly says that it’s the Church’s job — and one of the pastors’ jobs — to promote media education and even technical classes in using new and old media. This is both an example of Vatican II’s ambitious goals, and the way the actual documents have been almost totally ignored, especially by those supposedly its greatest partisans. (I expect to see such classes at every parish at about the same time we see the Vatican II-mandated classes on singing and Gregorian chant for all parish members.) But if anybody out there has technical skills and wants to run a class at your parish, you’ve now got Ye Justificacioun to show whoever’s in charge.
Anyway, feel free to read it all. It really is a Helpful Document, though there’s probably not much there that will surprise you.