WASHINGTON (November 12, 2000) -- The Renewing the Mind of the Media Pledge Campaign, designed to encourage those in the media to act responsibly, is set for the weekend of December 16-17 in Catholic parishes nationwide.
"We, the Catholic people of the United States, united in our families, parishes, and dioceses, pledge to work together to encourage those responsible for the media we use each day to carry out their service responsibly and to eliminate that which diminishes our appreciation of God's image in creation," the pledge says, in part.
"The media are not beyond the reach of our influence," says an introduction to the pledge.
The pledge campaign was approved by the nation's Bishops in June at their general assembly in Milwaukee. It calls for the pledge to be taken over five years, normally in conjunction with World Communications Day, which is typically celebrated in late Spring. The 2000 Pledge was set for the weekend of December 16-17 to coincide with the Jubilee Day for Cinema, Theater, and Entertainment.
The Campaign implements a pastoral statement of the same name approved by the Bishops in 1998 which called on all segments of society--from parents to government to the entertainment industry itself--to take action to overcome the widespread and pervasive exploitation of sex and violence in all forms of communications, including the Internet.
"Pornography, excessive violence, and other irresponsible uses of sex and violence in the media gravely harm the moral and psychological health of both society as a whole and its individual members--children and adults," the Bishops said in their statement. "Even people who do not consume a great deal of media are well aware that they live in a society whose environment and values are affected by media influence, for good or ill, and they can be affected themselves, even indirectly."
The statement said that, while the influence of film and television has been subjected to much criticism in the past, today many other forms of media also influence young people and adults to engage in morally and socially destructive forms of behavior.
The campaign for 2000 includes ten actions or attitudes from which Catholics may choose to carry out the pledge practically. Among those are talking with family members about their use of media, trading an hour of media consumption each week for an extra hour in prayer, and seeking out media that explore faith and spiritual issues.
Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg (FL), Chairman of the Bishops' Communication Committee which has overseen the development of the pastoral statement and initiatives to implement it, called the Pledge Campaign a visible way to draw attention to the concerns of Catholics about the media.
"We hope that this will send a signal those who work in and with the media that we intend to behave as responsible media consumers and that we expect them to behave as responsible media producers," he said. "As both the statement and this pledge note, the media have tremendous potential to bring truth and beauty into our lives. We only want them to live up to that potential."
In addition to the pledge campaign, the U.S. Catholic Conference Communications Department has developed an overview brochure of the Renewing statement and a 12-minute video, which is intended to serve as a discussion starter for parish groups. A Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page (www.renewingmedia.org) has also been established. Visitors can sign onto an electronic form of the pledge, find the text of the statement in both English and Spanish, and view excerpts of the video.