Use the media well to teach the faith, cardinal encourages Catholic leaders
Mar 19, 2008
It seemed only fitting that a fundraising luncheon for the archdiocese’s television station would serve up a little drama.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Today’s Catholic, 3/18/2008) - The seventh annual Catholic Television of San Antonio (CTSA) leadership luncheon, which honored program hosts Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, was held Feb. 25 at the AT&T Centre at San Fernando.
While the day was sunny in the Alamo city, fog was socking in the airport in Houston, delaying the arrival of the keynote speaker for the event by more than three hours. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston was scheduled to be in San Antonio at 9 a.m., well in advance of the noon gathering downtown. However, the cardinal’s plane did not touch down in the city until 12:15, delaying his appearance at Red McCombs Hall until 12:45.
Thanks to a quick adjustment in which event organizers just reversed the order of the program, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston made it to the podium not a minute too soon, and even brought the gathering to a close at its regularly scheduled ending time.
Cardinal DiNardo served as a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh before being named bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa in 1997. In 2004 he was named coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. With the elevation of the diocese to an archdiocese, he automatically became coadjutor archbishop, and in 2006, Archbishop DiNardo succeeded Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza. Archbishop DiNardo was elevated to the status of cardinal at the Vatican in 2007.
On making disciples
He began his comments by quoting Matthew 28, the “go and make disciples” passage. “You never meet the risen Christ without getting a job,” he laughed. Cardinal DiNardo said he was speaking not as an expert in media, but as a pastor, citing his experiences in beginning a new parish in Pittsburgh, “overseeing 15,000 miles of corn fields in Iowa,” and shepherding 1.5 million Catholics in the Houston area.
“The media has been crucial to the church since the moment St. Paul sent a letter,” said the cardinal. “Paul changed the format of an epistle for what he needed to do.”
After congratulating Catholic Television of San Antonio for 25 years of perseverance, Cardinal DiNardo explored some of the areas in which the media could help the church.
“One of the things the media can help us to do is to provide instruction,” he said. “That may seem to be droll or unimportant, but I have done 240 confirmations in four years and observed that young people raised on media have an incredible enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, a desire for prayer and catechesis, but an abysmal knowledge of the faith.”
The cardinal lamented that the media disparage religion in general and dismiss Scripture, giving young people an understanding of the faith that is not Catholic.
“There is a rich, evocative understanding of doctrine, but the problem is that it is not being communicated,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “I will always salute catechists. They are the unsung heroes, and they can be assisted by the media, which is sophisticated in form and can help with context.” He continued, “We can all use and stand a dose of what media can provide, especially TV and radio. It can be done in an entertaining fashion. It can be beguiling and inviting. Then we can give the substance of faith. The form of presentation needs constant adjustment.”
‘It’s all about the human person’
The archbishop of Galveston-Houston emphasized that it was especially critical for Catholic media to “allow the liturgical life of the church to come through. That is very important for a fuller understanding of the Catholic faith. They will also continue to report the news about us — whether good or bad — but in a better context than other media.”
He also stressed the importance of the church’s communication tools providing good, pure entertainment. “That is difficult to find,” he said. “There is a richness of catechetical stories among our families, who provide a great deal of wisdom.”
The former Pittsburgh priest told attendees that, after serving as bishop of Sioux City, Iowa for six months, he had an ad limina visit in 1998 with Pope John Paul II. The pope’s parting comments to him were, “It’s all about the human person.”
In 2004, in a document on social communications, the pontiff urged the media to be in service to the human person, in formation and serving in charity and love. “The document is still clear, scintillating, and extremely important,” explained Cardinal DiNardo. “Because of singularity, the human person uses the word, ‘I.’ The one who says ‘I’ is so important to the sharing of truth. We need to talk to each other. The media is going to do what it does, and we will put first the priority of the human person. I will pray that all Catholic media represented will be here for the human person.”