Yesterday, December 4, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Decree on the Media of Social Communications from the Second Vatican Council known as Inter Mirifica. Along with this document we also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
When the Council Fathers gathered during the early 1960’s, I guarantee they had no idea how social communications and media would develop and advance from the day this document was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. In the 1960’s, computers were housed in entire rooms, now we have computers in our hands. Technological advances have evolved drastically over the past 50 years, but especially in the past 20 years with the advances in laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
These instruments have not only advanced the world we live in, but the Church is using these same tools, along with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, other social media outlets and Catholic apps to announce the same Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles 2000 year ago. Proposition 18 from the Synod on the New Evangelization states, “Education in the wise and constructive use of social media is an important means to be utilized in the New Evangelization.”
Many seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, religious sisters, religious orders, dioceses, archdioceses, and even the Pope (@Pontifex) have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or both. The Catholic Blogosphere has exploded in recent years with many lay people developing blogs alongside the clergy and religious to promote the beauty and Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Even with all that is on the Internet in regards to the Catholic Church, I recently heard a statistic that shocked me – only 13% of Catholics that attend Mass each Sunday know of a Catholic online presence. What?!
Although Inter Mirifica has taken hold in the life of the Church, there is still a lot more work to be done, if the the above statistic is true. It really takes about 50 years for documents to make their presence felt in the life of the Church after an ecumenical council. With that being said, the documents of the Second Vatican Council are at the beginning stages of bearing their fruit. It’s an exciting time to be a Catholic!
I would encourage you to read the Decree on the Media of Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, as soon as you can. It’s a short document and one that you will understand. If you have any questions about the document, feel free to contact me.
Below are five quotes that stood out for me from Inter Mirifica –
“The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication” (#1).
“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” (#3).
“First, a good press should be fostered. To instill a fully Christian spirit into readers, a truly Catholic press should be set up and encouraged. Such a press-whether immediately fostered and directed by ecclesiastical authorities or by Catholic laymen-should be edited with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts…effective support should be given to good radio and television programs, above all those that are suitable for families. Catholic programs should be promoted, in which listeners and viewers can be brought to share in the life of the Church and learn religious truths” (#14).
“Since the proper use of the media of social communications which are available to audiences of different cultural backgrounds and ages, calls for instruction proper to their needs, programs which are suitable for the purpose-especially where they are designed for young people-should be encouraged, increased in numbers and organized according to Christian moral principles. This should be done in Catholic schools at every level, in seminaries and in lay apostolate groups. To speed this along catechetical manuals should present and explain Catholic teaching and regulations on this matter” (#16).
“It will be the task of the Bishops, however, to watch over such works and undertakings in their own dioceses, to promote them and, as far as the public apostolate is concerned, to guide them, not excluding those that are under the direction of exempt religious” (#20).
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray For Us!