Pope to Mass Media- Communicate Truth about Abortion
Mass media should defend human rights
On Thursday, 3 March 1988 the Holy Father
received the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission
for Social Communications and addressed them as follows:
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, Brothers and Sisters in
Christ, "The Lord be with you."
1. This greeting is a familiar part of our liturgical
celebrations. In itself, it is a beautiful prayer that those whom we address may
truly be filled with the Spirit of God and may truly reflect in their lives the
grace of Jesus Christ.
The liturgical salutation reminds us of another greeting
offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel: "Hail, full of grace,
the Lord is with you!" (Lk 1:28) Gabriel's greeting was not prayerful hope, but
the recognition of a fact: that the Lord truly was with Mary.
In this Marian Year, it is appropriate to recall with the
members, consultors and staff of the Pontifical Commission for Social
Communications during your annual plenary meeting, that one of the most
significant messages of all time was brought by the patron of communicators, the
Angel Gabriel, to Mary -- the news that she had been chosen by God the Father to
be the Mother of his Son.
Let us examine the context and the content of that message to
see what we can learn in our own work as communicators.
2. The Angel said, "Hail, full of grace!" By this greeting, he
recognized the unique dignity of Mary as one who had been especially blessed by
God. While it is true that only Mary had the privilege of being conceived free
from sin and full of grace, it is equally true that every person is a child of
God with a special dignity and a special destiny. Should not our communication
and indeed all communication recognize the dignity and the transcendent destiny
of every human being?
In all our work of communication, this means that we should
tirelessly proclaim and defend the dignity of every person as a child of God
destined for eternal life. We must join with all men and women of good will in
defending the rights and dignity of every human being the right to life from the
moment of conception until natural death, the right to decent housing, education
and a just wage for meaningful work, the right to practice and openly profess
It is in the profession of religious belief, however, that we must go beyond the
message offered by other persons of good will who do not share our faith, for we
must publicly communicate the good news of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
The cost of proclaiming this message has always been great. Even in the infancy
of Jesus, Simeon referred to him as a "sign that is spoken against" (Lk 2:34).
Simeon likewise said to Mary: "A sword will pierce through your own soul also"
(Lk 2:35). The Apostles Peter and Paul paid the price of martyrdom for
proclaiming the message of Jesus, and thereby have become models for thousands
of followers of Christ throughout the ages who have offered their lives in
witness to the Gospel. In this age, Blessed Titus Brandsma gave his life as a
priest and as a journalist in defense of the rights and dignity of every person
and in witness to his faith in Jesus Christ.
3. How should Catholic communicators imitate the Blessed
Virgin Mary, the Apostles and the martyrs in their witness to the faith?
First, every Catholic communicator, like every member of the
Church, should be a model of personal integrity. Each of us should proclaim the
Gospel in our daily life by seeking to be truly "full of grace". Every Catholic
communicator should also be a model of professional competence, for without such
expertise there can be little positive impact in the competitive and demanding
world of the communications media.
Second, I would also hope that every Catholic in the
communications media will be fearless in the presentation and defense of truth
even when that truth may be unpopular at a particular time or in a particular
place. The number of children deliberately killed before birth remains a
terrible scandal in a world which professes to be civilized. It is a scandal
which can easily be ignored unless there are people in the communications media
who will make known this continuing tragedy. The death and suffering of so many
innocent people due to violence, hunger and disease are situations which must
also be made known through the communications media, so that those in need may
be helped. The persistent denial of essential human rights, including the right
to profess and practice religion publicly, is likewise a subject which deserves
to be brought before the attention of the world so that the power of public
opinion may help to break the chains of oppression.
Third, Catholics in the communications media can help to tell
the good news as it is lived by millions around the world. The compassionate
love of the Blessed Virgin Mary in visiting her cousin Elizabeth at her time of
need is reflected over and over again in the lives of those who care for the
sick and the dying; who educate the poor and the handicapped, and who seek to be
peacemakers in a troubled world. There are as many interesting stories as there
are heroic, but humble people in the world, and their unselfish lives will not
remain hidden if there are communicators with the imagination and skill to bring
their story to a world which needs examples of heroism and hope.
4. At the end of this year, we will mark the twenty-fifth
anniversary of that landmark document of the Second Vatican Council Inter
Mirifica. The communications media are there described as among the marvels
of technology which God has destined human genius to discover in creation. The
communications media have the wonderful power to bring the people of the world
together. The media can be messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ, as the
Angel Gabriel was to Mary, and can proclaim that the message not just to one
person but to multitudes. The power of the communications media is undoubtedly
very great, and it depends on us to guarantee that they will always be
instruments at the service of truth, justice and moral decency.
The task is indeed a challenging one. The Angel Gabriel,
however, also said to Mary: "The Lord is with you!" (Lk. 1:28). We have the
assurance of the continuing presence and help of Jesus in all that we do to
communicate his truth and his love, in all that we do together with his Blessed
Mother to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.
As a sign of that continuing help of the Lord, and invoking
the intercession of his Virgin Mother, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing
to you, your loved ones and all your associates in this important work of
Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion