|Unsold Newspapers Stack Up|
I have become increasingly frustrated and angry by some of the content of the Catholic newspaper being sold in churches in South Africa. The question that plagues me, is what I should do about the flow of articles and editorials that dilute, contradict, or challenge Church teaching?
During the last two weeks I decided to take a break from posting to my Blog. Instead of writing, I wanted to consider this question and devoted that time to prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament in my chapel.
Two weeks later and I cannot say that I am any closer to finding an answer to the question. It seems to me that there really is nothing that I can do about the newspapers content, except to pray unceasingly.
At the end of the day I have no ability to affect a change in its content. Those who do are the editor and the board of the newspaper, who should ensure that the newspaper is “edited with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts.” It does however seem that this is unlikely to happen, given their clear support of the current content.
Those who are not involved in the management of the newspaper, but who clearly do have an ability to bring about a change in the newspapers content, are the bishops and their parish priests. In fact the priests and bishops have an obligation to their parishioners and others who are under their pastoral care.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the truths of faith and morals, the pastors of the Church have the duty and right to be watchful so that no harm is done to the faith or morals of the Christian faithful through writings or the use of instruments of social communication. They also have the duty ... to condemn writings which harm correct faith or good morals.”
Anyone who has been involved in sales will understand the incredible value of an effective distribution network. The one who controls that distribution network has tremendous influence, though this is often underestimated.
The priests and bishops clearly control the distribution channel for the newspaper. Without this distribution network, this newspaper would be placed in a position of having to compete with secular publications for market share, using traditional distribution methods.
Bishops have a pastoral obligation to manage what is sold to Catholics inside of the churches over which they have authority. They, along with their priests, therefore clearly control the newspapers distribution channel.
“Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.”
One can therefore only hope that our bishops and priests will begin to take a fresh look at some of the content of the newspaper and, if need be, use their control of the distribution network, to influence a change in content of the newspaper.
As for what we as ordinary Catholics can do. We can stop buying the newspaper if we are concerned with its content. We can speak to our priests and bishops, highlighting our concerns. We can also of course, and in fact must, pray unceasingly for the newspaper, its contributors and its management.