PART III: LIFE IN CHRIST
Section Two: The Ten Commandments
Chapter 2: “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”
Article 8, The Eighth Commandment
V. The Use of the Social Communications Media (cont’d)
§ 2496 The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.
§ 2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.
§ 2498 “Civil authorities have particular responsibilities in this field because of the common good…It is for the civil authority…to defend and safeguard a true and just freedom of information” (IM 12). By promulgating laws and overseeing their application, public authorities should ensure that “public morality and social progress are not gravely endangered” through misuse of the media (IM 12 § 2).
Civil authorities should punish any violation of the rights of individuals to their reputation and privacy. They should give timely and reliable reports concerning the general good or respond to the well-founded concerns of the people. Nothing can justify recourse to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media. Interventions by public authority should avoid injuring the freedom of individuals or groups.
§ 2499 Moral judgment must condemn the plague of totalitarian states which systematically falsify the truth, exercise political control of opinion through the media, manipulate defendants and witnesses at public trials, and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider “thought crimes.”
Tomorrow – Truth, Beauty, and Sacred Art
(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 8 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “IM” – Pope St. Paul VI (Dec 1963), “Inter Mirifica [Amongst the Media]”