Today we constantly read social media reports of “fake news.” We are told we now live in a “post-truth” society, where we pick and choose our own facts. It seems that our reality has taken a tumble and we just don’t know who and what to believe.
Pope Francis, in his World Communications Day message released Jan. 24 (the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of Catholic journalists), said society cannot lose its right to expect accurate, truthful and reliable information.
“I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news,’” said Pope Francis. “This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil.
“Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy,” he said.
Rather than rely on a communications industry that focuses on tragedy and “thinks that good news does not sell,” Pope Francis proposed another option.
“I would like to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients,” said Pope Francis. “I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news.’”
I think what Pope Francis alludes to here is part of the mission of the Catholic press. Catholic newspapers, magazines, books and online publications do seek to inspire a positive and responsible approach to delivering its message.
The Holy Father eloquently states that life “is not simply a bare succession of events, but… a story waiting to be told through the choice of an interpretative lens.” How is that for defining the role of the Catholic press?
He goes on to say that reality “depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them.”
During the month of February, the U.S. church observes Catholic Press Month. It is an opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Catholic press and consider how well that mission is being served.
Our mission is to form, inform and inspire, to present the news of the day accurately and objectively, and to offer instructional (catechetical) material to help educate readers about the faith. This is our “interpretative lens.”
Bishop David Ricken, our publisher, has asked The Compass to help him promote the diocesan vision and mission statements announced last August. These statements, intended to guide the diocese in years to come, are short and direct:
Vision statement: “We are missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the Kingdom of God.”
Mission statement: “As friends and followers of Jesus, we are devoted to fostering households and communities of discipleship through the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church.”
These goals will be incorporated into our mission as promoters of the Good News. We thank parishes for their support by offering subscriptions to parish members. A special word of thanks goes out to three pastors who recently added their parishes to our “full coverage” subscription level: Fr. Matthew Settle, St. Anthony Parish in Niagara; Fr. Carl Schmitt, St. Mary Parish in Maplewood; and Fr. Joel Sember, St. Anthony Parish in Oconto Falls.
Full coverage parishes provide Compass subscriptions for 50 percent or more of their “contributing units.” They get a discounted rate per subscription of $15.50 per year. A regular subscription is $28.
By becoming a “full coverage” parish, parishes assist The Compass in reaching more people in the pews, furthering our mission of forming, informing and inspiring, while “fostering households of discipleship.”
If your parish is interested in becoming a “full coverage” parish, contact Barb Gauthier at The Compass, (920) 272-8208; [email protected].