CATHOLIC PRESS AS A CATECHESIS FOR ADULTS IN THE YEAR OF FAITH
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Due to the expansion of anti-Catholic media, there may appear anti-Catholic, anti-ecclesiastical opinion which is going to exclude priests from schools and in a further perspective it will cause a situation when churches will be empty
I often recall myself about the past years when in Warsaw the great primate of Poland cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was holding his post and in Cracow he engaged himself in the priestly ministry of cardinal Karol Wojtyła in an unusual way. I am reminiscing cardinal Bolesław Kominek from Wrocław, bishop Bronisław Dąbrowski, a secretary of the Episcopate of Poland and many other prominent pastors and priests – because besides the surnames of great bishops we also had unusual priests. I also have academic priests in mind, most of whom are not among those who live. And although there was the communist regime at that time, there was time of the Polish People’s Republic which was directed by the Polish United Labor Party with its most essential organ – the Security Office, so when we mean people of the Church, we can say that it was a wonderful time, time when everybody knew that the Church was a unity. It does not mean, certainly, that it is not the unity today, but – although we can develop our activity without any difficulty, we are not persecuted by the Security office, there is no Office for Religions – there is a kind of a slippery area, there is a situation as if air was let off from the tires of a car which we are driving. Our actions seem fine and conservative, complaining became something existing generally and normally, also among clergy.
Falsifying the reality by some media
When in Krakowskie Przedmieście in Warsaw in 2010 there appeared a problem connected with placing a cross there and when we showed this cross on the cover of the weekly ‘Sunday’ with the question: ‘Who feels bothered by the cross?’, some people even perceived the cross negatively, they somehow recognized the issue differently. I think that if the Catholics read Catholic newspapers, their awareness of what was happening in Krakowskie Przedmieście would be different.
Unfortunately, the awareness is manipulated by various newspapers unfriendly to the Church and the Polish spirit. It is a very serious matter, as we see that many titles in press of other media are formulated in a way which derides the Church and the Catholic way of thinking, and the clarity of opinions, calling things by name are defined as shocking through hatred – as if there was no more place for the correctness of thinking and honesty in expressing one’s opinion. This is the way in which media are creating the reality and the careless recipients applaud it. It is a very dangerous phenomenon because accepting some half-truths as true, which are being spread generally, leads into a mistake. For example, a lie are widespread opinions about wealth and greediness of the Church, coming from the communities of people hostile to the Church. If we were reasonable, were trying to reach to something more than everyday information from media, we would see what the reality looks like. Anyway, this ‘wealth’ can be seen on the example of the ordinary church tray which is an essential part of parish funds. And it is astonishing why there is so much suspicion, hatred and anger among people, when these features are destructive and destroy life of an individual and the society. Please, think over these issues…
A need of more eagerness
In the times of the Polish People’s Republic, when a preventive censorship was functioning, it is not easy to transmit something via media. When in 1961 I was publishing a picture of my first holy mass in the circulation of nearly 1 thousand copies, I had to have a censorship stamp on the reverse side of the picture. Today there is no censorship, its stamps, we have freedom, we can print and say everything what we want. It is used by various communities, but, unfortunately, not by Catholic communities. The range of the Catholic press in those times was low, but it had its faithful readers; whereas, although we had great enthusiasm in the 90s, today our Catholic engagement looks like the mentioned car from whose tires air has been let off. Even priests do not have the enthusiasm today which they used to have before. That’s true that poverty paralyses possibilities of action but we know examples of many people who have done something from nothing, who were able to encourage and mobilize others for engagement. We must not allow people in their poverty, unemployment and hopelessness to forget about God.
Beside that, if we subordinate ourselves to everything what hypocritical media, which are hostile to Poland and the Polish spirit, persuade us to believe in, then we will become poorer and poorer which is leading the nation to the defeat. And, after all, it is all about the Polish family, that is, a pro-family policy which should be a priority of people in the government, because it is the family where our life is developing. Whereas our legislation is doing everything to rob the family, while it supports those who have problems connected with their family life. Normality is not appreciated by the state. I do not question here the need of help to the mother of father, but this issue should look different.
Upbringing through the Catholic press
The Church cares about the healthy family in which the Christian attitude is created, that is, in which God takes the first place and then all moral matters are in their right place. In this kind of family one can create an honest and good life. This kind of family is also brought up through the Catholic press, radio and television. Therefore we care about understanding it mainly by priests. It seems that older priests understood the presence and help of the Catholic newspaper better as ‘the additional vicar on the parish’, as the founder of the ‘Sunday’, bishop Teodor Kubina, used to say. They knew that if a believer comes back home after the holy mass with a Catholic newspaper, the newspaper is present for the whole week among members of a family, then a young man becomes interested in it – especially that in the weekly ‘Sunday’ a valuable supplement has been present for a long time, entitled ‘The Sunday for Youth’ and it will be a pretext for a discussion on religious issues in the family.
But in the situation when some parishes have given up distributing Catholic newspapers, it is impossible to create a social opinion. Due to the expansion of anti-Catholic media there may only appear anti-Catholic, anti-ecclesiastical opinion which is going to exclude priests from schools and in a further perspective it will cause a situation that our churches will be empty. Let’s take these tips to our hearts which are come from the deepest care about the Church of Christ and the family of Christ, about every man whom we are supposed to bring to Christ.
We are promoting Catholic media
The Year of Faith, proclaimed by Benedict XVI is coming. Let the promotion of Catholic media among believers be one of the most important tasks of the Church at this time. And no matter whether this or that Catholic newspaper is preferred – let people read it, let them ,listen to Catholic radio stations because they remind us of our vocation to love of God and our neighbour, because they build a sense of responsibility for family, local community, and homeland. The same concerns us, pastors. A priest who does not read Catholic newspapers, is also undergoing the process of secularisation, like everybody. He is becoming an ordinary man, who can even like anti-ecclesiastical performances.
Luckily, it seems that the society is waking up, that it begins to demand its rights, a democratic behaviour from the authorities, that it rejects their arrogance. The general demand for the place for the Television Trwam on the digital multiplex proves the nation is getting mature, about a different way of thinking; similarly – the signatures about the defence of the cross in the Polish Seym, sent via the weekly ’Sunday’.
So, it is seen that a new time is coming. But it is also necessary that priests should participate in the process which is just beginning, in order to understand better the reality surrounding us. Possibilities are in our hands. There is Radio Maryja, Television Trwam, we have about 40 Catholic radio stations, there are Catholic newspapers, our weekly ‘Sunday’ of 86-year-old tradition, among them. We should not remain useless. We should not keep quiet when we should remind believers about the need of reading. Let’s make believers interested in one of the articles suggested by the editorial office in special announcements. We should not get subjected to bad ‘advisors’ – the haste and omission.