WASHINGTON (April 18, 2002) – 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 May 18-19 in Catholic parishes in 150 dioceses nationwide.
"We, the Catholic people of the United States, united in our families, parishes, and dioceses, pledge to work together to encourage media leaders to act responsibly, to make room for voices they have neglected – especially that of the religious community – and to eliminate anything that diminishes our appreciation of God's image in creation," the pledge says, in part.
The effort in 2002 marks the third of a five-year pledge campaign approved by the nation's Bishops in 2000. The national target date for the pledge is set for the third Sunday in May to coincide with the U.S. celebration of World Communications Day, although some dioceses have chosen to promote the pledge at other times during the year.
In 2001, more than 68,000 Catholics supported the pledge, signing it in their parishes and on the Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page – www.renewingmedia.org
In addition to the pledge, the Campaign in 2002 will include a second, ongoing effort to raise media awareness at the parish level. Parish resource kits – including materials for educators, liturgists, parish leaders, and families – were mailed to parishes in participating dioceses in mid-April.
Included in the resource booklet is a section with ideas for setting up a parish media watch group and issues such a group could take on at the local level.
Materials from the parish resource kit are also available on the Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page.
"The media are always with us," said Coadjutor Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Dallas in a a letter of introduction. "Today 89 percent of American children live in homes with more than one television set, and the average home has sixty-two cable channels. Half of U.S. households now have computers, and 30 percent have Internet access. ... Whether as news, information, or entertainment, the media have become so ubiquitous that we seldom stop to think about the impact of their presence," the chairman of the Bishops' Communications Committee went on.
The Campaign implements a pastoral statement of the same name approved by the Bishops in 1998 which calls 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.
Catholics are asked to support the Campaign, and ultimately a responsible news and entertainment industry, by signing the pledge and returning it to their parishes. Anyone may sign the pledge electronically on the Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page.
"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 2002 pledge includes eight 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, contacting advertisers, and challenging video stores and hotels that distribute X-rated material.
In addition to the campaign, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 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. In addition to signing the pledge electronically at the Renewing the Mind of the Media Web page, visitors can find the text of the statement in both English and Spanish and view excerpts from the video.