MOSAIC Spring 2017 - Page 27

ADVANCING THE NEW EVANGELIZATION Winning the World for the Sacred Heart of Jesus Seeing Reality through Catholic Eyes Greg Erlandson W hy do we need a vibrant, dynamic, engaged Catholic press? We need it because we need a well-informed, a well-formed, and an inspired Catholic laity. Today this is not just a pious cliché. Our Church faces grave challenges that demand such a laity. Most Catholic parents today have been educated primarily in, at best, forty-minute class sessions twenty or so weeks a year from first through eighth grades or until Confirmation, whichever comes first. Too many of them are, in terms of their religious I.Q., children inhabiting adult bodies. Yet most parishes have neither the re- sources nor the strategies to educate and evangelize today’s adults who are them- selves responsible for passing on the faith to the next generation as well as meeting the growing challenges of our own age. That is why, at this point in U.S. Church history, the greatest strategic need facing the Church may be in the area of adult faith formation and education. I would argue that within this context, a vibrant Catholic media—print, digital, ra- dio, television—is needed more than ever. Why? Because it is still the most wide- spread means of ongoing adult faith educa- tion and formation we have today. First, Catholic media provide information that Catholics often won’t find elsewhere. Whatever one thinks of the quality of the secular media, its coverage of the Church is uneven at best. At a time when Catholic leaders seek to engage the great issues of the day, their voices often barely rise above a whisper in the secular press. And just as unfortunately, most Catholics are like non- Catholics: that is, they get their information about the Church from secular media. The Church needs its own voice to en- gage society and be heard in the public square, but first and foremost it needs a voice to inform Catholics, helping them to see reality through Catholic eyes. It needs a voice to tell the stories that are not be- ing told, and it needs a voice to mobilize Catholics when action is needed. Second, to be informed means that one is learning to see the world through Catho- lic eyes. The task of the Catholic media is not just the who, what, where, and when, but also the why. The regular appearance of a Catholic publication with news, analysis, columns, and features in a virtual or ac- tual mailbox does more to help form more adult Catholics than any other method or tool because it helps them to better under- stand their own faith. From the point of view of Catholic news media, the formation they provide is not the same as catechetics. It is not narrowly pedantic in intent, nor is it propagandistic. But in reporting on the world and in let- ting Catholic voices be heard unfiltered by secular media or the prevailing biases and values of the dominant culture, it plays a vital and formative role. Covering controversial issues such as the debate surrounding Communion for the divorced and remarried can be instructive about the Church’s teaching regarding the Sacrament of Marriage. Articles about pro- life or human dignity issues are instructive in moral formation. News about the na- tional and international Church inspires us with examples of Catholics living out their faith in different communities. Like all media, the Catholic press is un- der great stress, but it remains a vital and valuable tool in service to the Church. It needs the resources to flourish and to fulfill its role to inform, to form, and to inspire, particularly at this time when other institu- tions of the Church, especially the parish, are facing equally daunting challenges and are in need of a well-formed laity. In a cacophonous media environment, Catholic media—print, video, radio, and digital—is critically important if the Church is to preach the Gospel, form its members, and reach modern men and women effec- tively. Greg Erlandson is director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service. He is former president of the Catholic Press Association and served as one of six international experts on the Vatican’s media reform committee in 2014-2015. shms.edu 25