So I’ve been studying Vatican II lately (the Second Vatican Council) – not formally or anything, just reading up on it for fun (yes, for fun!). It IS the 50th anniversary of the opening Vat II after all – which is, of course, a fundamental part of the spirit/reason behind the Year of Faith.
And to my surprise, last night I came upon Vat II Document 26 called “Decree on the Means of Social Communication” or Inter Mirifica. So facebook and Twitter didn’t invent “social media?” Nope! Well, and neither did Pope John XXIII or Pope Paul VI (the Popes during the Council). But, how fascinating is it that decades before the invention of the internet, the Church was talking about Social Communication, it’s influence, and our call as Christians to relate to it and use it in a sanctifying way.
I wanted to pull some quotes from this Vat II Document to give you a glimpse into the riches of the Council – and hopefully entice you to dig into them yourself! Not all at once of course – there are TONS of documents – the Second Vatican Council archives from the Vatican has them all. But I definitely encourage you to browse through them in this Year of Faith – we do have a whole year after all – and get familiar with them. They contain alot insight – and for those of us that didn’t live through it personally, it’s also a good history lesson. It’s amazing to think how much our world and culture has changed since then, especially with communications!
Here’s to being a part of the post-Vat II generations, charged with the mission of living out our timeless-yet-rooted, traditional-yet-always-in-renewal Catholic faith!
“Man’s genius has with God’s help produced marvelous technical inventions from creation, especially in our times. The Church, our mother, is particularly interested in those which directly touch man’s spirit and which have opened up new avenues of easy communications of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientations. Chief among them are those means of communication of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientations. Chief among them are those means of communication which of their nature can reach and influence not merely single individuals but the very masses and even the whole of human society. These are the press, the cinema, radio, television and others of a like nature. These can rightly be called “the means of social communication.” – Translation from Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, General Editor Austin Flannery, OP. p 283. Introductory Paragraph
“…the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design.” Chapter 1, Section 3
“The Church does not speak and listen to her own members alone; her dialogue is with the whole world. By virtue of a divine commandment and by the right to knowledge possessed by the poeple whose lot she shares on earth, the Chruch is in duty bound publicly to communicate her belief and her way of life. Moreover, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, she is “to read the signs of the time,” for these, too, reveal the message of God and indicate the unfolding of the history of salvation under Divine Providence.” Chapter II, Section B, Paragraph 122. p 333.
“Christ commanded the apostles and their successors to “teach all nations,” to be “the light of the world,” and to announce the Good News in all places at all times. During his life on earth, Christ showed himself to be the perfect Communicator, while the Apostles used what means of social communication were available in their time. It is now necessary that the same message be carried by the means of social communication that are available today.” Chapter II, paragraph 126. P 334.
“The question is posed whether we are on the threshold of an utterly new sort of era in social communications or whether we face merely a change in degree and not in kind…What is certain is that soon, due to the latest technological developments ..sounds, images and the message they bear will soon be reaching men, simultaneously, all over the world…So it will be possible for all peoples to learn more of each other as a result of this real dialogue. They can then work together for the unity of mankind and the establishment of peace. Suddenly, and in proportion with these changes, the responsibilities of the People of God will enormously increase. Never before have they been offered such opportunities. It will be possible to ensure that the media promote the advancement of the whole human race…It will be possible to strengthen the brotherhood of man.” Part IV, Paragraphs 181 & 182, p 347-348
“The People of God walk in history, As they – who are, essentially both communicators and recipients – advance with their times, they look foreword with confidence and even with enthusiasm to whatever the development of communications in a space age may have to offer.” Conclusion of Part IV, p 349