March 05, 2006

Fr. Roy Cimagala

Media and public morals

WE are all sinners. We all know that. That’s nothing new. Our own personal experiences can readily attest to this fact.

St. John spells it out for us very clearly in his first letter:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar and his word is not in us.” (8-10)

Our Catechism also tells us that “the Church, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.” (827)

Still, we should try our best with the help of grace not to sin, not even to give rise to avoidable occasions of sin, and not to scandalize others, especially the little children.

Thus, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to sin no more after she was forgiven.

And our Lord also said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt 18,6)

Christ’s charity and mercy, which we are called to live, never do away with the requirements of justice and prudence. They have to be together always, though we can discern the limitations of justice as compared to charity.

But more than these, I suppose we Christian believers are supposed to actively build a culture of holiness, practical, feasible holiness, around us. But what do we have?

It is in this context that we appeal to those in media and others concerned to be more sensitive to the finer moral aspects of their presentations.

Their work inevitably involves many ethical and moral issues and questions that they should resolve well and properly integrate into their plans and strategies.

Their audiences are not mere economic factors to be played with under purely economic laws. They are persons, made of body and soul, children of God made in the image and likeness of God. The moral dimension is an indispensable factor to consider always.

They have to be handled with great care, always upholding their innate dignity in spite of their earthly conditions. They never should be treated as animals or soulless buyers and consumers.

Media people cannot and should not be solely guided by ratings and popularity, or by purely market forces. Otherwise, we will also have another kind of deadly stampede, of the spiritual kind rather than the physical.

That Valentine gimmick Lovapalooza is a shameless commercialization of the passionate kiss, trivializing a very intimate expression of love between a husband and wife, and not just between any lovers.

What are we trying to tell for example to our youth with such mindless display of erotic love? That it’s just ok to have passionate kissing, as what you see in many European and decadent countries? After the passionate kiss, what next?

I’ve been to such countries before, and I have witnessed these shameless public manifestations of affection. I must say that it was not just kissing I saw. I also saw a lot of used condoms littering the ground.

Ok, we can say that it is just for fun, let’s not exaggerate it, let’s not be killjoys. But Sodom and Gomorrah started that way. We can be tolerant and understanding, no problem with that. But we have to be clear about the limits, especially when public morals get compromised and the more vulnerable sectors are affected.

In this regard, the media should be sensitive to screen product endorsers whose image can wrongly influence minds of people.

As I said, we are all sinners, and these product endorsers can be public sinners also. We should not make a fuss about this. But precisely when these endorsers capitalize on their sin to endorse a product, we should react. We cannot be passive.


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... ANALYSIS - Media and public morals

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