WASHINGTON (September 4, 2001) -- Catholics in the United States have rallied to the call for Renewing the Mind of the Media, according to numbers being reported by dioceses across the country.
Fifty-one dioceses have reported the return of 62,478 pledges in support of the Bishops' Renewing the Mind of the Media Pledge Campaign.
The Campaign, which is being promoted in 150 dioceses nationwide this year, implements the Bishops' 1998 pastoral statement calling on all segments of society -- from parents to government to the entertainment industry itself -- to take action to overcome the pervasive exploitation of sex and violence in all forms of communications, including the Internet.
Parishes in participating dioceses are asked to circulate the pledge in their weekend bulletins. Catholics supportive of the message are then asked to return the pledge the following Sunday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops suggested the pledge be conducted the weekend of May 19-20 to coincide with the celebration of World Communications Day. Some dioceses have scheduled their pledge weekends at other times, however, to coincide with other events planned locally.
Dioceses and parishes promoted the pledge in a variety of ways. Some planned special pull-out sections in their diocesan newspapers. Others scheduled radio and television interviews for their Bishops or other key personnel. In at least one diocese, the bishop hosted a "media breakfast," at which the main topic was the Renewing the Mind of the Media Campaign.
"We are pleased at the initial reports coming from dioceses," said Bishop Joseph A. Galante, Chairman of the Bishops' Communication Committee. "Three years ago, the nation's Bishops called on those working in the media industry, as well as those of us who are media consumers, to act responsibly. The exploitation of sex and violence in the media is appalling, and numerous scientific studies show that such exploitation can play out it tragic ways in real life. This campaign is intended to draw attention to the need for better decisions all around. We're grateful so many Catholics are responding."
Of the 51 dioceses reporting to date, the top five in number of responses are: Scranton (6,226), Buffalo (4,552), Rockford (4,342), Manchester (3,817), and Orlando (2,585).
"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 effort in 2001 marks the second of a five-year pledge campaign approved by the nation's Bishops last year. Parishes in 131 dioceses participated in 2000.
In addition to the parish pledge campaign, other USCCB efforts to "renew the mind of the media" include:
a Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page (www.renewingmedia.org) where anyone may sign the pledge electronically, read the full text of the 1998 pastoral statement in English or Spanish, view excerpts of a 12-minute discussion video, and view the Campaign materials; advertising in some diocesan publications; an overview brochure of the Renewing statement; a 12-minute video, which is intended to serve as a discussion starter for parish groups.