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Archbishop Romero and the Media : A prophetic view

Archbishop Romero and the Media : A prophetic view

Brussels, August 14th, 2017 (SIGNIS). The assassination of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, on March 23, 1980, has not only to do with the defense of the poor and the oppressed, but also with the media and what he thought about those who controlled them. Romero became the voice of denunciation and especially the "voice of the voiceless".  For him, every citizen should be respected and able to access the media. Romero underlined in his speeches that the media have a responsibility to serve humanity and to avoid becoming accomplices of those who oppress the people in not giving them a voice. In the 1970s, most media in his country, El Salvador, were in the hands of the powerful supporting the dictatorship, hostile to the poor or those defending their citizenship. El Salvador was ruled by military dictators since the 1930s, and during all of these years, the government tried to silence the people as well as the truth in the media. Most newspapers, radio stations and television services were in the hands of those who were favoring the dictatorship.  It was difficult to find news and critical attitude towards the propaganda and the misinformation campaigns of the dictatorial regime. Those who were critical and fought for the truth did it at the cost of their life. In these circumstances, Archbishop Oscar Romero became the most credible source of information and news in the country. He saw it as a pastoral duty. Romero did not only denounce abuses in sermons during mass and in churches but also via the radio and the newspaper of the archdiocese. His talks were broadcasted every Sunday and were heard by most of the population.  He rejected censorship and the “culture of silence”. He didn’t want to be silent about the persecution of priests, journalists, peasants and those who were militating for democracy.  Each week, he was mentioning the names of those who were tortured, killed or had disappeared. He, as a real journalist, also reported on the violence and crimes of the rebels.  As a result, he received a serious warning by the regime and its para militias: they bombed the archdiocesan radio station YSAX. In the three years preceding his death, YSAX was bombed ten times! On the day of his assassination, he was talking, in a sermon, about the injustice and the inhumanity of the regime and the rebels: about the torturing of a peasant and the rape of girl by the military but also about the torturing of a policeman by a revolutionary group. For Romero, misinformation, fake news, a culture of silence and propaganda were the worst things to serve the people. Author Jon Sobrino underlined in his biography Archbishop Romero: Memoires and Reflections the importance Romero gave to the media. He reminded the readers about Romero’s view on the media situation in El Salvador: “Truth is missing from our midst. Too many of us advertise a pen for hire and words for sale. The media are very manipulated, very manipulated. They distort the truth. Do not believe all you read in the papers, see on television, or hear on the radio”.  He saw how the media were controlled by the powerful, oppress the poor. The peasants, the popular associations and the Church in his country had almost no access to the content of the media, not even in paid advertisements. Romero used the media to defend the truth. His opponents, in El Salvador and in the United States, used the media for defamation campaigns by saying that he was on the side of Marxists –  which was, during those years, a death sentence. For instance, many manipulated the Pope’s speech in Puebla on February 18, 1978: according to the media, the Pope told the people and the faithful to obey the authority. In fact, he also said that it was the duty of the Church to denounce the abuses of power by that authority, but no reference was given about this part in the media. On July 22, 1979, Romero expressed his anger and powerlessness about this distortion of the truth: “who will pay for air time to show this other aspect of the Pope’s message? How nice it would be if, alongside their self-serving, paid notices accusing priests of taking a position on social matters, they paid for the publication of the Pope’s addresses at Oaxaca, Monterrey, and Santo Domingo, or the part of his encyclical where the holy father explicitly condemns precisely the abuses that the Church, and consequently we priest are conscience-bound to condemn.” For Sobrino, Romero had a prophetic view to see clearly and to denounce a society divided between “those who have too much voice (and who didn’t like his Voice) and those who have none (whose voice Romero wanted to be).
Art, music, and dance jazz up the new Pope video

Art, music, and dance jazz up the new Pope video

Vatican, August, 8th, 2017 (PWPN). Pope Francis and the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network present the 20th The Pope Video. This month the Holy Father stresses the importance of the work of artists to “infect” people with joy and contribute to the transformation of society. This month, the Pope stresses the importance of the work of artists as a way of transmitting joy. And he gives this message with a video in which music and scenery are the protagonists. In addition to emphasizing the value of the creative work of God, as the imagery juxtaposes the tranquility of the plains with the fervor of a ballerina in the midst of a city, Francis makes a clear call to commit ourselves to caring for and protecting this inheritance. In September of 2016, on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, he invited all believers to renew our commitment to our personal vocation to be stewards of creation. Jesuit Father Frédéric Fornos, international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement, noted that the Pope already some time ago has spoken of the importance of artists: “‘The artist is a witness of the invisible, and a work of art is the strongest proof that the incarnation is possible,’ and the role of the poet, of the artist, is to oppose the ‘throw-away’ culture, and evangelize.” A social media contest titled #beautyofcreation is also being launched today by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and the Global Catholic Climate Movement to encourage fulfillment of the prayer intention.  The campaign invites people to be "artists" by taking a picture or making a short video of places in nature where they appreciate the beauty of creation.  The contest is hashtagged #beautyofcreation. Entries will be showcased on the Beauty of Creation web page, http://catholicclimatemovement.global/beauty-of-creation.  The campaign will run through the Season of Creation (http://seasonofcreation.org) the period September 1-October 4 when Christians come together to pray for and care for creation.  The Season of Creation has been endorsed by Pope Francis, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and major European churches. Below, find the full script of the video: The arts give expression to the beauty of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation. When we admire a work of art or a marvel of nature, we discover how everything speaks to us of Him and of His love. That artists of our time, through their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation.