Today, nine initiatives to get things going in the realm of social communications, starting with some self-imposed homework in number one:
486. In order to form disciples and missionaries in this field, we bishops gathered in the Fifth General Conference, pledge ourselves to accompany those devoted to communications, striving to:
a) Be familiar with and appreciate this new culture of communications.
Training for clergy, missionaries, lay ministers, catechists, and others:
b) Promote professional training in the culture of communications in all pastoral agents and believers.
A bit of cross-training, reaching into the professions to gather support for the Church’s mission:
c) Train competent professionals in communications who are committed to human and Christian values in the evangelical transformation of society, with particular attention to media owners, producers, program directors, journalists, and announcers.
Church-operated outlets online and elsewhere, but also in traditional media outlets of the past few centuries:
d) Support and optimize the creation by the Church of its own communications media in both television and radio, on Internet sites, and in print media.
Ensure that the existing media, both modern and from previous centuries, knows of the church’s activities and mission, and permits us to spread the Good News:
e) Be present in the mass media: press, radio and TV, digital film, Internet sites, forums, and many other systems in order to introduce into them the mystery of Christ.
Can we assess the use of media by traditional standards of the virtues? Start with children, the bishops urge:
f) Educate with critical training in the use of the media from an early age.
If not yet started, now is the time:
g) Encourage existing initiatives or those to be created in this field, with a spirit of communion.
Advocacy to government to protect the more vulnerable persons exposed to various communications media and its possible dangers:
h) Bring about laws to promote a new culture that will protect children, young people, and the more vulnerable, so that communications will not trample values, but rather create valid criteria of discernment.(Cf. Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family, Art. 5f, October 22, 1983)
Something a bit more fuzzy:
i) Develop a communications policy that can help both pastoral ministries of communications and Catholic-inspired media to find their place in the Church’s evangelizing mission.
While I can’t disagree with this last one, it largely depends on the success of some of the previous pledged positions. Once experts–laity and clergy both–have assessed particular situations in the media mentioned (and more) they will be in a better position to assist in policy-making. But given the rapid changes in media forms, any Church will need to be quick on its feet to address these matters as they arise.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.