NDAY. May 26, has been named by Pope as the second World
munications D a y
a threefold aim: to make known the Church's attitude towards the development and use of mass media--the Press, radio, television and cinema— to pray for success in this field and to collect money to further the apostolate.
ial sermons will be at all Masses and a ction will be taken.
Although it is only in Pau wit Spe give coll
receit years that the
Cat ' olic Church ha realise the potential of the ma media she is no newcorn r to the scene. The Oss rvatore Romano, the eve mg daily, published in Vat can City, was founded mo than a century ago in 860 by a group of Ita n laymen and later tak over by Pope Leo XII The Church's own broadcasting station, Vatican Radio, can claim an irnpresOve pedigree through its designer, the inventor of radio, Guglielmo Marconi Vatican Radio star ed transmission in 193W and today, as then, its purpose, SO quaintly stated. is "that the voice of the Supreme Pastor may be ;-leard throughout the word by means of the ethor waves. for the glory of (Christ and salvation of sou I.,, Al staff of 200. including 2 jjesuits, broadcasts in 33 languages. Vatican Ra io beams 448 progra mes a week of rou hly 15 minutes' duration each. More than 230 of ese go to both Eastern and Western Europe, 122 to Africa in five langua es including Arabic and Ethiopian, 42 to the Am:ricas, 33 to Asia and
14 to Australia and New Zealand.
Like the Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio follows a generally conservative policy. Many of the programmes it puts out are descriptions of Vatican ceremonial, reports of the Pope's speeches and activities and details of day to day events in the fife of the Church.
If the Osservatore Romano can claim longevity. the Catholic Press in Britain can do as well. Of the country's two major newspapers the Universe is the same age as its Roman colleague and the Catholic Herald is only 20 years younger. The Tablet. with a smaller circulation, can claim seniority, however. It was founded in 1840.
The Catholic Herald, Universe and Tablet are all lay-owned, lay-run national newspapers. But Britain can also boast a thriving regional Catholic press. Liverpool has the successful Catholic Pictorial with a circulation around the 30,000 mark. And in Scotland there is the Catholic Herald's stablernate, the Glasgow Observer.
Soon there may be others. Bishop Wall of Brentwood has recently encouraged a group of priests and laymen to look into the possibility of producing a lively diocesan paper.
Besides the newspapers, national and regional. there is a plethora of magazines like Novena, the Catholic Digest. Catholic Fireside. Reality and the Catholic Gazette. Many of these, like Catena for the Catenians and the Catholic Citizen for the St. Joan's Alliance, are house journals. Others are general interest magazines varying in their purpose from the propagation of almost esoteric devotions to the investigation of the
most advanced theological thinking.
How many magazines are published under the Catholic umbrella is not known. The Catholic Central Library in Victoria keeps more than 100 permanently on file. but this represents only a minute proportion of those actually published. Almost every religious order and Catholic organisation has its own propaganda machine which may be a couple of duplicated sheets or a well-presented professional job. But if Britain has a multifarious industry in Catholic journalism, she is left far behind by America. That country has more than 100 newspapers alone and thousands of magazines, many with vast circulations.
The Vatican Council stressed the importance of the mass media in the work of the Church. Similady, local hierarchies have established Commissions on Mass Media which—to quote the manifesto of the Commission for England and Wales— "will seek to improve the work of the Church" in radio. television, the Press and the cinema, "It will seek a clear and reasonable presentation of the voice of the Church. And it will be responsible for setting up a Catholic Press Office."
That office is well on the way to becoming a reality. A Press Officer has been appointed. He is David Miles Board, a radio journalist who will take up his new duties later this year. To journalists, who for years have often found difficulty in getting answers to tricky questions put to Church authorities, his appointment is a chink of light in an overcast sky.
The Mass Media Commission works through two sub-committees, one of which deals with the Press and a second concerned with radio, television and films, The Press Sub-Commission includes representatives from the three major Catholic newspapers as well as the Observer, the Telegraphs. the Yorkshire Post and various representatives of
the advertising and public relations worlds.
The Church's representative in the world of films is the Catholic Film Institute, which classifies films and issues reviews of new films in its leaflet, Signpost. It also runs a hire service tci parishes and schools.
The future of the Catholic Film Institute is unsettled. The priests of the Society of St. Paul who run the Institute, and the bishops, are anxious to give it more teeth. Just how they will do that remains to be worked out.
Perhaps the brightest light on the mass media horizon is the work of the Catholic Church in television. The new Centre for Radio, Television and the Cinema which is being built under the direction of Fr. Agnellus Andrew at Hatch End will boast the most up to date studios in the world. Already the walls of the £100,000 building are 6ft. above the ground and the £35,000-worth of equipment will include the highest quality transmission cameras.
Men and women from all over the world already come to Hatch End to train in the art of communicating through radio and television. Much of the Centre's best work is done with students from the emerging countries.
On the domestic scene the Catholic Church is well represented in the B.B.C. and Independent companies. Fr. Patrick McEnroe is the Catholic Assistant to the B.B.C.'s Head of Religious Broadcasting and Fr. Geoffrey Tucker is the Catholic Representative on the I.T.A. Religious Advisory Board.
Twelve other priests advise the various regional Independent companies, but so far laymen have not penetrated this particular clerical stronghold, though with the re-distribution of Independent contracts the position may change. About 10 per cent. of the total denominational broadcasting is Catholic and most of this tends to be transmissions of services. But the general tendency in religious broadcasting is towards ecumenical endeavour.
On the first World Day of Communications last year Catholics in Britain contributed £24,000 towards this apostolate. Grants from this figure have not yet been awarded with the exception of a couple of scholarships to students from Nigeria and Colombia.
A proportion of the money—about 20 per cent. —will be used to finance the Church's work overseas, particularly in the underdeveloped countries. But the majority will go to the Centre at Hatch End, for undoubtedly it is there that the future of the Church's success in cornmunications lies.