What if journalists did good for the Church?

Do not sulk our pleasure. When the highest authority of the Church, namely the Pope himself, on November 14, thanks the journalists for having “Tell what is wrong in the Church”, because so “You help us not to hide it under the carpet”, and congratulated them in particular for “The voice given to victims of abuse” It warms the heart. Because we must admit that sometimes it is not good to investigate current affairs in the Church. Especially when you belong to a Christian media organization. Cases of sexual abuse have been particularly difficult work for journalists. In fact, added to the horror of what we discovered and to the collection of particularly trying testimonies, the criticisms of Church leaders reproaching us for showing only the dark side of the institution or of “Betray the cause”.

Not that journalists are exempt from all criticism. It happens more than often to us to go too fast, to make mistakes, to exaggerate or to underestimate. The proliferation of social networks has caused an escalation and a kind of race for speed, damaging the quality of information. Moreover, the very great mistrust that has developed between the population and the media cannot leave our profession indifferent. It has even become a kind of game, on the part of the candidates for the future presidential election, to criticize the work of the press and to use it as a punching bag, assured that they are carried away. the sympathy of a certain public with a few well-felt salvos against the hated media.

The pope’s sentence is therefore welcome. It has not always been easy for Church leaders to accept a Catholic debate press, which sometimes gives divergent opinions, presents things by putting them in perspective, even by criticizing. In the Vatican in particular, the Curia maintains complex relations with journalists, from whom it expects a repercussion of the pope’s words but not an analysis. Obtaining information in Rome, sometimes a simple confirmation, is still an obstacle course as the mistrust is immense. The case of sexual abuse shows, however, that the Church itself has everything to gain from a free and independent press, including within the Catholic world. This is one of the conditions for a public opinion to emerge within it, which must be able to be informed and to be formed. The public debate has too often been suspected of contravening the argument of authority (the magisterium) and of dividing the “people of God”. Yet there is a theological translation to this public opinion, what is called the “sense of the faith of the faithful” (sensus fidei fidelium in Latin!) which inhabits, affirms the Church, the whole community: this “spiritual flair” of the Christian people enables them to discern the false from the true and helps to formulate the official position. It is, moreover, this sense of the faith of the faithful that the bishops felt in Lourdes. They did not act under public pressure, but taking into account this almost unanimous opinion on the urgent need to follow up on the Sauvé report. A turning point in the Church of France where the press, again, played its part.


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