Roman Catholic Viewpoint - EDP24
By ANITA DOWSING
We share a duty to speak the truth
Yesterday the Catholic Church celebrated World Communications Day, which focuses on the importance of the media as a means of communication, with all the opportunity and responsibility that brings.
This Sunday, May 11, Pentecost Sunday, there is a united service in Norwich Cathedral at 6.30pm, as part of a Global Day of Prayer.
This Year Pope Benedict had chosen as the theme for the Day: 'The media in the service of truth'.
It is significant that Communications Day is celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came over the Church, to strengthen it and give it courage to proclaim the truth about Christ.
In different ways both the Church and the media, are called to speak the truth within their areas of competence.
Good reporting, as I see it, is about discovering the truth and getting it to the reader, listener or viewer in a way they can understand, sometimes at great personal cost.
I was impressed by John Simpson's recent reporting of the post-election debacle in Zimbabwe. He went there at considerable risk to himself, and his crew, to discover what was really going on and to give a voice to the ordinary Zimbabwean, struggling to survive.
Frank Gardener's reporting in the Middle East exposed him to an Al Qaeda attack which left him paralysed. But this has not stopped him going to Afghanistan this year to report on Arab troops doing humanitarian work there.
In both these cases the motivation for risk-taking, as well as being part of the job of course, was the desire to 'tell it as it is'. It was, in the words of Pope Benedict, “to seek the truth in order to share it with others”.
The Church, too, seeks the truth, and it proclaims the truth about Christ, so that others may share it. The Catholic Church does this in an 'official' way through its teaching office, but here I want to focus on the way ordinary Christians can state the truth by the way they live.
Not many of us are called to be Pope (!), or bishop, but we are all called to live truthfully. What does that mean?
There are Christians who are called to risk their lives in order to be true to their faith, but for most of us it's small, undramatic words and actions that show others what we believe.
I still remember one small action by a girl I sat next to at a meeting. She asked, “Do you have a spare biro, I've forgotten mine?” “Yes,” I said, handing her the one I was about to use. But she held it in the air, till she had seen me dig the other one out of my bag. A small matter, but she was establishing the truth before acting on my offer to lend her a biro, saving us both from potential embarrassment.
I sometimes think casual conversation should carry a health warning, because that's where we're so often put on the spot about what we believe, and it doesn't have to be specifically 'religious' talk either.
Years ago I was at a conference where a group of us was having coffee at the end of the day. One woman flirted outrageously with one of the men there, and I thought, “Good grief, that's a bit much!”
She must've felt uncomfortable about it herself, because later she asked me: “Do you think I went too far?” The answer to which was “Yes!”, but instead I made a polite noise about it being 'all right'.
It would've been perfectly possible to tell her what I thought without being offensive, which might've been a help to her. Instead I let her down, because I didn't have the courage to speak out. (I hope I've since got better!)
In this kind of situation it's easy to say to oneself “Who do you think you are?” or “I don't have the right to judge others”. But this is not about putting oneself forward, it's about service to the other person. It's about being true to what one believes, which anyone can do.
Yesterday was Communications Sunday and this coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Both are about communicating the truth, the truth about what is going on in the World and the truth about the message of Christ. By living and speaking truthfully Christians and media personnel, some of whom are Christians, come together, because both are called to serve the truth, whatever the cost.
By courtesy of EDP24