New request from Pope Francis: Pray for journalists to seek truth, cling to ethics

Yes, I'm following the Donald Trump hurricane on Twitter. No, I am not planning to watch the debate.

It's Sunday, for heaven's sake.

I feel like pointing journalists toward some think-piece material that is a bit more uplifting before we all dive back into the hellish White House race that has done so much to validate the concerns of (a) the feel the Bern folks worried about big banks and the power of the top 1 percent and (b) the many theologically and culturally conservative believers who have stood up to members of the old-guard Religious Right who -- even if some were reluctant -- bowed the knee to Donald Trump.

So, troops, who is Pope Francis requesting special prayers for this month?

Did you see this Catholic News Agency headline? "The Pope's latest prayer intention? That journalists be truthful." Here is the top of that:

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2016 / 09:27 am (CNA/EWTN News) -- In his latest prayer video Pope Francis dedicates the month of October to praying for journalists --  specifically that their work would always be motivated by strong ethics and respect for the truth.
The video, released Oct. 4, opens showing scenes of a television studio, recording studio, writing desks and satellites, which flash across the screen as the Pope speaks. Addressing viewers in his native Spanish, the Pope says he often wonders, “How can media be put to the service of a culture of encounter?”
“We need information leading to a commitment for the common good of humanity and the planet,” he said, and, as the faces of different journalists around the Vatican flashed across the screen, asked if viewers would join him in praying for those who work in the field of communication.
Specifically, he prayed “that journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for the truth and a strong sense of ethics.”

Ah, there's the rub. As someone famous once said, there are times in public life when elite leaders have been known to ask "What is truth?"

Lots of journalists these days would say that their goal is to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, which means that there is no journalistic motivation for covering the views of people with whom they disagree in an accurate, fair manner that shows them respect. Yes, take it away Bill Keller.

You see this all the time in coverage of Pope Francis, who tends to draw big headlines ("Who am I to judge?") when he uses a soundbite or two that suggests changes in Catholic doctrine, yet the media offers the sound of night crickets when he strongly affirms orthodoxy on issues of moral theology. You saw the major coverage the other day of his quotes on gender theory? Actually, there wasn't any on this side of the Atlantic.

So let's move on to a bit more information about the pope's video:

Among the journalists featured in the video is Alvaro de Juana, a Rome correspondent for CNA’s sister-agency ACI Prensa. Originally from Spain, he has been working as a journalist for 12 years. In comments to CNA, de Juana said having strong ethics and a high respect for the truth are always important, but moreover carry special weight in today’s society.
“For years there has been talk of an economic crisis, but the Church and concretely Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have said on many occasions that there is also a crisis of values,” he noted.
Within this crisis, “ethics and morality have been forgotten and have been discarded in many environments and in important questions,” de Juana said, explaining that because of this, a journalist “has the duty to respect ethics and morality.”
“There is no journalism without ethics,” he said, explaining that if ethics were removed from the equation, “it would be to dirty and undermine this profession that has the truth as its foundation.”

This is a very Catholic article, of course. But still, read it all.

Especially this part, from another papal statement on this topic:

“Certainly criticism is legitimate, and, I would add, necessary, just as is the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life and his affect. Journalism cannot become a 'weapon of destruction' of persons or even nations,” the Pope said at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.


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