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Vatican II, Inter Mirifica, 4 December, 1963

1981 /Edition

Chapter I

It is the Church's birthright to use and own any of these media which are necessary to useful for the formation of Christians and for pastoral activity. #3

It is essential that all those involved should form a correct conscience on the use of the media, especially with regard to certain issues, which are particularly controversial today. #5

...the content of the communication be true and--within the limits set by justice and charity--complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. #5

If the moral order is fully and faithfully observed, it leads man to full perfection and happiness. #6

Public opinion exercises enormous influence nowadays over the lives, private or public, of all citizens, no matter what their walk in life. #8

If they are to obey the moral law, those who use the media ought to keep themselves informed …take appropriate steps to direct and form their consciences so that they may more readily resist less wholesome influences and profit more fully from the good. #9

Those who are at the receiving end of the media, and especially the young, should learn moderation and discipline in their use of them. #10

A special responsibility for the proper use of the means of social communication rests on journalists, writers, actors, designers, producers, exhibitors, distributors, operators, sellers, critics-all those, in a word, who are involved in the making and transmission of communications in any way whatever. It is clear that a very great responsibility rests on all of these people in today's world: ...they have power to direct mankind along a good path or an evil path by the information they impart and the pressure they exert. #11

They should ensure that religious features are entrusted to serious and competent persons and are handled with proper respect. #11

It is for the civil authority, in its own domain, to defend and safeguard – especially in relation to the press – a true and just freedom of information, for the progress of modern society demands it. #12

Special measure should be taken to protect adolescents from publications and entertainments harmful to them. #12

Chapter II

Pastors of souls should be particularly zealous in this field, since it is closely linked with their task of preaching the Gospel. #13

The production and screening of films …One should take steps to ensure that it contributes to the human and moral formation of its audiences. #14

Priests, religious and laity should be trained at once to meet the needs… # 15

It would be shameful if by their inactivity Catholics allowed the word of God to be silenced or obstructed by the technical difficulties which these media present… # 17

…in the field of social communication more effective, a day is to be set aside each year in every diocese…#18


P. C. I. S. C., Communio et Progressio, 29 January, 1971

The unity and advancement of men living in society: these are the chief aims of social communication and of all the means it uses ...the way men live and think is profoundly affected by the means of communication. #1

It will therefore be the task of Bishops and their conference and,...while they do this, they will keep in mind the unity of the Church. #4 a result of exchanges of views and cooperation with such men, the vast potential that lies in the means of social communication will be made good and this for the advancement of all. #5

Part One - The Christian View of the Means of Social Communication: Basic Points of Doctrine

The means of social communication, even though they are addressed to individuals, reach and affect the whole of society. #6 men to share their knowledge and to unify their creative work. #7 creating man in his own image, God has given him a share in his creative power. #7

In the Christian faith, the unity and brotherhood of man are the chief aims of all communication...#8 communication can contribute a great deal to human unity. If, however, men's minds and hearts are ill disposed, if good will is not there, this outpouring of technology may produce an opposite effect, so that there is less understanding and more discord, and as a result evils are multiplied. Too often we have to watch social communications used to contradict or corrupt the fundamental values of human life. #9

While he was on earth Christ revealed himself as the perfect communicator ...He preached the divine message without fear or compromise. He adjusted to his people's way of talking and to their patterns of thought. And he spoke out of the predicament of their time. #11

Communication is more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion is the giving of self in love. #11

All men of good will, then, are impelled to work together to ensure that the media of communication do in fact contribute to the pursuit of truth and the speeding up of progress. #13

Whoever wants to see the media take their allotted place in the history of Creation, ...He must also have a sound knowledge both of the true nature of social communication and the tools at its service. #15

"Recipients" are those who, for their worn purpose, read, listen to, or view the various media. #15

The total output of the media in any given area should be judged by the contribution it makes to the common good. Its news, culture and entertainment should meet the growing needs of society. The news of something that has happened must be given and so too must the background of the event, so that people can understand society's problems and work for their solution. A proper balance must be kept not only between hard news, educational material and entertainment but also between the light and the more serious forms of that entertainment. # 16

Every communication must comply with certain essential requirements, and these are sincerity, honesty and truthfulness. Good intentions and a clear conscience do not ...make a communication sound and reliable. A communication must state the truth. #17

Part Two – The Contribution of the Communications Media to Human Progress

Chapter I

The Work of the Media in Human Society

The swift advances of the means of social communication tear down the barriers that time and space have erected between men. They can make for greater understanding and closer unity. #20

The communications media can be seen as powerful instruments for progress. #21

I. Public Opinion

Public opinion is an essential expression of human nature organized in a society. This opinion is formed in the following way. In everyone there is an innate disposition to give vent to opinions, attitudes and emotions in order to reach a general acceptance on convictions and customs. #25

If public opinion is to emerge in the proper manner, it is absolutely essential that there be freedom to express ideas and attitudes. In accordance with the express teaching of the Second Vatican Council it is necessary unequivocally to declare that freedom of speech for individuals and groups must be permitted so long as the common good and public morality be not endangered. #26 (34 Gaudium et spes, no 59).

The process of promoting what is sometimes called a "propaganda campaign," with a view to influencing public opinion, is justified only when it serves the truth, when its objectives and methods accord with the dignity of man,.. #29

Some types of propaganda are inadmissible. These include those that harm the public interest or allow of no public reply. Any propaganda should be rejected which deliberately misrepresents the real situation or distorts men's minds with half-truths, selective reporting, or serious omission, and which diminishes man's legitimate freedom of decision. # 30

The opinion of the majority, however, is not necessarily the best or closest to the truth. Public opinion, moreover, changes often. # 31

II. The Right to be Informed and to Inform

Freedom of opinion and the right to be informed go hand in hand. Pope John XXIII

A. Access to the Sources and Channels of News

Modern man cannot do without information that is full, consistent, accurate and true. #34

With the right to be informed goes the duty to seek information. Information does not simply occur; it has to be sought. #34

Society, at all levels, requires information if it is to choose the right course. # 35

Those whose job it is to give the news have a most difficult and responsible role to play. They face formidable obstacles and these obstacles will sometimes include persons interested in concealing the truth. # 36

Those who have to keep the public informed must give the news quickly, if it is to appear fresh and interesting. Competition also obliges them to do this, and speed is often won at the price of accuracy ....a communicator must remain faithful to the truth. #39

Communicators must hold the wandering attention of a harried and hurried public by vivid reporting ...they must not give way to the temptation of making the news sensational in such a way that they risk distorting it – by taking it out of context or by exaggerating it out of all proportion. # 40

...a rapid and clear correction should follow any mistake or misrepresentation that has found its way into a report. # 41

There is the right of truth which guard the good name both of men and of societies. There is the right of privacy which protects the private life of families and individuals. 41. Information "should be communicated honestly and with propriety. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld." Intermirifica, (D.26), no. 5. There is the right of secrecy which obtains if necessity or professional duty or the common good itself required it. Indeed, whenever public good is at stake, discretion and discrimination and careful judgment should be used in the preparation of news. #42

The reporting of violence and brutality demands a special care and tact . ...there is a danger of perverting the image of human life. It is also possible that such descriptions generate an attitude of mind and, according to many experts, a psychosis which escapes the control of the very forces that unleashed it. All this may leave violence and savagery as the accepted way of resolving conflict. #43

III. Education, Culture and Leisure

Simple entertainment, too, has a value of its own. It lightens the burden of daily problems and it occupies men's leisure. But recipients should exercise self-control. They must not allow themselves to be so beguiled by the charms of the media's products or by the curiosity that these arouse that they neglect urgent duties or simply waste time. # 52

The media are themselves new factors in contemporary culture, serving as they do large numbers of people at the same time. But as well as enriching culture, they can occasionally degrade it. They often play for the applause of the lowest cultural levels of their audience. And because they take so much of modern man's time, they can easily divert him from higher and more profitable cultural pursuits. #53

An unrelieved diet of productions geared to the lowest cultural level within a population would tend to debase the taste of those who have already attained a higher level. # 53

IV. Forms of Artistic Expression

The media of social communication do more than present the traditional forms of artistic expression, they themselves create new ones. # 54

V. Advertising

The importance of advertising is steadily on the increase in modern society. It makes its presence felt everywhere; its influence is unavoidable. #59

If harmful or utterly useless goods are touted to the public, if false assertions are made about the goods for sale, if less admirable human tendencies are exploited, those responsible for such advertising harm society and forfeit the good name and credibility . ...unremitting pressure to buy articles of luxury can arouse false wants that hurt both individuals and families by making them ignore what they really need. And those forms of advertising which, without shame, exploit the sexual instincts simply to make money or which seek to penetrate into the subconscious recesses of the mind in a way that threatens the freedom of the individual, those forms of advertising must be shunned. It is therefore desirable that advertisers make definite rules for themselves lest their sales methods affront human dignity or harm the community. # 60

...a judicious use of advertising can stimulate developing countries to improve their standard of living. #60


The Media: The Best Conditions for Their Proper Working

A. The Recipients

The more communicators remember that beyond the lifeless instruments which pass on their words and images are countless living men and women, the more satisfaction they will get from their work and the better they will help others. The more they get to know their audience, the more they understand it and appreciate it, the more they will make what they communicate suit those who receive it. #72


A. Communicators

When they come to choose the subjects for the productions, communicators will attempt to match all the needs of their public. They will be scrupulous in seeing that every relevant group is fairly represented... they have to try to foresee the kind of audience they serve ...dialogue must not ignore the age, culture and social background of the participants. # 74 are obliged to study the facts, the events, the opinions, the current interest, the thought of the surrounding environment.. Because factual information provides a public service...#75

Communicators should not allow themselves to forget that the nature of the mass media makes their audience a vast one. While they must keep faith with their artistic integrity, they should at the same time remember both their power and the grave responsibilities it brings with it ...they have been given a rare chance to promote the happiness and progress of men. #76

Critics have a commanding role in getting communicators to maintain the highest standards of integrity and service...#78

The founding of professional associations for communicators is most valuable. They provide a forum when opinions and experiences can be exchanged. #79

In order to survive and to expand, the means of social communication require reliable financial backing... these investors should not exercise any undue pressure that might distort the proper liberty of the communicators, the artist or what we have called the recipients. #80

B. Recipients

The recipients can do more to improve the quality of the media than is generally realized; so their responsibility to do this is all the greater. If they do not insist on expressing their view, if they are content with a merely passive role, all the efforts of the communicators to establish an uninhibited dialogue will be useless. # 81

Recipients can find strength in unity. There exists no reason why they should not work closely together. They can band themselves into associations just as communicators have been advised to do. # 83


A. Cooperation Between Citizens and the Civil Authorities

The media are there for the good of everyone and to serve everyone. # 84

...the task of the law-makers to legislate about the media ....the media must have the support of law so that they can survive. Cultural and human values require protection. Religious liberty in the use of the media should be guaranteed. #87

In some cases, the state may have to intervene and set up these advisory boards to supervise the media. # 88

As far as possible, the law should protect the young from what can do them permanent psychological or moral harm. It is the task of legislation in this field to give the necessary support to the family and the school in educating the young. # 89

C. Cooperation Between Nations

Those forms of aid which help emerging nations to develop their own means of social communications are of great importance. # 92

""Development," said Pope Paul VI, "is the new name for peace" 48. Countries that are well equipped should provide technical assistance to those which are not ...responsibilities for the common good do not end at their national frontiers. #93

It goes without saying that the aid given to developing countries can never be at the expense of their own cherished traditions, of their culture and art forms, for these are rich in human significance.

D. Cooperation Between Christians, All Believers and All Men of Good Will

When their faith gives them real inspiration, people of different religions can render notable service to social communications.

The Vatican Council suggested the establishment of World Communications Day. Every man who believes in God is invited to spend one particular day every year to pray and think about the future and the problems of the media. # 100



By the Second Vatican Council Catholics have been asked to consider still more carefully and in the light of the Faith what new work and responsibility the modern means of social communication place on them. #101

Chapter I

The Contribution of Catholics to Social Communication

If Catholics are to be of service to means of social communication and to act so that these may serve humanity's ends, it goes without saying that it is in the spiritual sphere that the Church can best help. # 101 editors and newscasters not to overlook news items about religious life which will interest their audience. They can give the religious dimension to human life . ...they aim to give a service which will earn the sympathy of their colleagues simply by its quality. # 103

As representatives of the Church, bishops, priests, religious, and laity are increasingly asked to write the press, or appear on radio and television, or to collaborate in filming. They are warmly urged to undertake this work... # 106

Chapter II

The Contribution of the Communications Media to Catholics

I. Public Opinion and a Closer Communications in the Life of the Church.

The Church looks for ways of multiplying and strengthening the bonds of union between her members. For this reason, communication and dialogue among Catholics are indispensable. # 114

A. Dialogue Within the Church

Since the Church is a living body, she needs public opinion in order to sustain a giving and taking between her members. # 115

Catholics should be fully aware of the real freedom to speak their minds which stems from a "'feeling for the faith" and from love. # 116 dialogue within the Church does no injury to her unity and solidarity. There should be a deep love for the Church and a compelling desire for its unity. Christ made love the sign by which men can recognize his true Church and therefore his true followers. # 117

...only those doctrines may be attributed to the Church which are declared to be such by her authentic Magisterium. # 118 opinions circulating among theologians, at times circulate too soon and in the wrong places. Such opinions, which must not be confused with the authentic, doctrine of the Church, should be examined critically. #118

When ecclesiastical authorities are unwilling to give information or are unable to do so, then rumor is unloosed, and rumor is not a bearer of the truth but carries dangerous half-truths. #121

B. Dialogue Between the Church and the World.

The Church does not speak and listen to her own members alone; her dialogue is with the whole world. # 122

...The mission of those with responsible positions in the Church to announce, without fail or pause the full truth, by the means of social communication, so as to give a true picture of the Church and her life . ...a failure to use them amount to "burying the talent given by God." # 123

II. The Use of the Media for Giving the Good News

Christ commanded the apostles and the successors to "teach all nations,".58 Christ showed himself to be the perfect Communicator, while the Apostles used what means of social communication were available in the time. It is now necessary that the same message be carried by the means of social communication that are available today. #126 communication are the usual channels for giving the news and for voicing contemporary man's attitudes and views, they offer marvelous opportunities to all for considering the implications of their religious convictions through the discussion of events and problems of the day. # 129

Chapter III

The Active Commitment of Catholics in the Different Media

I. The Printed Word

The Press, of its power and nature, is of towering importance, ...its variety and of the number of its publications, it can go into detail when reporting the news.

II. Cinema

The Cinema is part of contemporary life. It exerts a strong influence of education, knowledge, culture and leisure.

III. Radio and Television

Radio and Television have given society new patterns of communication. Instantaneous transmissions break through political and cultural barriers.. What they have to say reaches men in their own homes. # 148

Listeners and viewers will contribute to the betterment of religious programs by making their reactions known. # 155

IV. The Theater

The theater is one of the most ancient and lively forms of human expression and communication. # 158 ...ancient interest in the theater should be maintained by Christians today and full use be made of its possibilities. # 161


Equipment, Personnel and Organization

The official Catholic organizations and enterprises that work in social communications with a pastoral end in view, should be able to call upon trained personnel. #164

...the ground rules laid down in Inter Mirifica, this duty devolves upon every bishop in every diocese. # 165

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