The right of a man to the truth
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
The patron of journalists and Catholic press - St. Francis Salezy (1567 - 1622) is reminisced on 24 January. This French theologian and philosopher, a representative of humanism, a doctor of the Church, bishop of Geneva. For at his contemporary times he could use media available at his time, in order to reach to most people; especially in Geneva he had to defend the Catholic Church from heresies.
Today media are a great chance, and also a big problem for the Church, they comprise people using a computer, cameras, microphone, and -as we see - they are the fourth authority. This is an enormous power, influencing various areas of life - parliamentary elections, policy of the country, social matters, cultural dominance, etc. Hence, there is care about journalism so that it would be subjected to moral rules.
St. Francis Salezy reminds, especially to young journalists, that there are some commitments, among which - despite of freedom and independence, in which editorial offices are working - should be fulfilled. Not in vain did the Church elect this Saint to help this professional group. For, a journalist must serve to the truth mainly. Serving to the truth, one will not feel dilemmas: write - not write, it will be liked or not, this news, although hardly significant, will sell better. And a journalist will benefit from it (feeling of faith, dignity, real development, satisfaction with reliable work) and society which will see itself in the truth.
For these reasons, the Church cares about pastoral ministry among journalists. In 1992 pastoral guidelines of the Holy See 'Aetatio novae' was published, which includes indications concerning pastoral ministry by media. At that time - when there was not internet yet - speaking about existing media reality, the Church noticed that what is not in media, does not exist in any way, that there is a specific media creation, creating a reality via media. Don't we see it in many situations concerning religious life?...
Therefore, as the Christians we all must care, so that ethical, moral matters, Catholic social teaching would be present in public life. So that people, receiving reliable information, could judge the reality in the light of the Gospel. Only this kind of Christianity makes sense, only reliable media not using manipulation make sense of their existence in the world. Certainly, there are also the better ones, but their existence is too short. These matters were often mentioned by blessed John Paul II. And during one of his pilgrimages to Poland - in Olsztyn (6 June 1991)- he gave somehow rules of good journalism. He said: 'There will be hardly any advantage of speaking or writing, if the word is used not to look for the truth, express the truth or share it with others, but only to win in a discussion and defend one's own wrong attitude (…). The truth is also humiliated when there is no love to it or another man.
Then one loses much: respect, trustfulness, credibility, a chance for creating good. And everything based on the breach of 8th Commandment of God: 'You will not give a false testimony against your neighbor'. Because the truth is a good for the man and the society and the man has a right to the truth.
Today, when we can freely publish various newspapers, books, conduct radio and television programs - let's look at the matter of the presence of the Catholic Television Trwam on the modern electronic relays. This modernity should also be used by the believers of the Catholic Church who keep these mass media. Whereas our politicians have their mouths full of democracy and they also want to decide about the amount of the truth or manipulate it, considering their various ad hoc interests.
Especially the Catholics must care about a possibility of good media transmission. We are obliged to it by our consciousness of the value of such a transmission. Therefore the matter of Catholic press, diocesan radios and television stations and help of media in reaching to believers should be important to us. A priest obliged to proclaim the message of the Gospel, should find many ways, so that Catholic press would be present in Polish families and used in parish pastoral ministry.
The liturgical reminiscence of St. Francis Salezy urges us not to lose any minute of our free time in which we could come closer to Christ.