Roman Catholic Church and Cautious Embrace of Modern Communication Media
Keywords:Roman Catholic Church , popes, communication, media, information, innovations, Africa , internet
The Catholic Church has a complex history in its appropriation and use of modern means of communication. It has at various times sought to adapt and pushed back. Almost with equal measure, it has variously churned out instructions and guidelines and even condemnations on the heels of inventions and innovations that pushed the boundaries of traditional means of communication. For instance, the church transitioned from colourful medieval manuscripts to printed books with the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century. Interestingly, whenever the church has been able to embrace any invention, it has almost always done so through the purviews of its mission of evangelisation. In contemporary times, Inter Mirifica (promulgated on 4 December 1963 by the Second Vatican Council) and Communio et progressio (23 May 1971) are two documents that signalled the church’s preparedness to accept the reality and phenomenon of the new frontiers ushered in by contemporary means of communication. The objective of this article is firstly to make a historical excursus of the Catholic Church’s embrace of the means of communication, characterised by caution and wariness, eagerness and enthusiasm. Secondly, it apportions a space to the Catholic Church in some African countries. It also highlights the importance attached to means of communication, especially the radio apostolate, by the local churches in those places. It does so by situating the media consciousness among local church hierarchies on the continent within the injunction of Pope John Paul II in Ecclesia in Africa.
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