Catholic Press Month

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | February 6, 2014

Why the Catholic press is needed

February is Catholic Press Month, an observance that dates back to at least 1950, according to the Catholic Press Association. The theme that year was, “The Catholic Press in the Service of Truth, Justice and Peace.”

More than 60 years later, the Catholic press continues its mission of service by promoting truth, justice and peace through news, information and inspiration found in newspapers, magazines and books.

Here are a few reasons why the Catholic press remains an important instrument of the church today:

n Challenges to religious liberty: Practicing our faith without government interference has long been a concern of church leaders. Recent federal regulations challenging religious freedom have led U.S. bishops to voice their opinions. Greg Erlandson, former Catholic Press Association president, noted that the Catholic press plays an important role in helping church leaders defend religious liberty.

“It is critical that Catholics not only have access to sound news coverage and commentary, but that they hear directly from their leaders on the issues of the day and have the resources to see their world through the eyes of faith,” said Erlandson. “Only the Catholic press gives Catholic leaders a voice with which to be heard by their people — unmuted, uncensored and independent of the preconceptions and prejudices of too many secular media outlets.”

n Pope Francis: Since his election last March, Pope Francis has taken the world by storm. News and entertainment magazines have caught Pope Francis Fever. Time magazine named him its 2013 Person of the Year, and Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New Yorker and The Advocate featured images of Pope Francis on their covers.

It is exciting to see so much positive coverage of the pope. If there is a downside, it might be that secular reports can take the pope’s words out of context.

In an interview with Jesuit publications last September, Pope Francis stated that the church “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible.” Headlines around the world made it sound as if these issues were no longer important. The role of the Catholic press is to help put the pope’s words into context and report on those words of Pope Francis that don’t generate sensational interest.

n Engaging the culture while setting the record straight: The new evangelization encourages the church to reach out to the world. Sometimes the message gets garbled and it’s up to the Catholic press to hit the reset button.

One example involved creation of an iPhone app to help prepare Catholics for the sacrament of reconciliation. Secular news reports gave the impression that the app would somehow replace the act of confessing sins to a priest. The Catholic press helped explain that the app only served to prepare Catholics for confession by guiding them through an examination of conscience.

n Chronicling the church’s living history: If you’ve ever conducted research for a parish anniversary or another historic occasion, you would know that accuracy is not always a given. For that reason, The Compass strives to provide accurate information that researchers in decades to come can rely on.

Join us this month in celebrating the Catholic press. Renew your subscription to The Compass or another Catholic publication.


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