Reporting the news with hope


In an address to the recent 2021 Catholic Media Conference in the US, Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle spoke of Catholic communicators, with the Gospel of Hope, being able to “communicate with hope and to communicate hope in the face of trying times”.

The cardinal spoke of “an unfortunate tendency” to focus on the forces of evil, but he urged those present “not to lose the sense of discernment fuelled by hope”.

The outlook recommended by the cardinal, according to a Catholic News Service report, should be: “I will look for the signs of hope. I will look for the signs of civility, of goodness, of solidarity, of compassion.”

Hope, Cardinal Tagle said, is “the certainty that, in the midst of division, God has already triumphed . . . in the blood of Jesus. Hope tells me that, in the midst of all the trials, all the conflict, all the violence, death and loss of life, we know that God has triumphed”.

Also at the US Catholic media conference, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, said that, in these times, the Catholic media face “the challenge of restoring hope — not restoring so much as perhaps enhancing hope — to remind people we are not doing this alone. We are a people in journey together.”

Cardinal Gregory stated that Catholic media should present news in the light of the Gospel, but it should also do so truthfully. If the news is to be presented truthfully, then it should not be reported through rose-tinted-glasses.

Communicating with hope, as described, is certainly a worthy ideal for those in Catholic media.

Such communicators should never revel in evil and gore, simply for the sake of it, taking some sort of perverse pleasure in it.
But with the reality of deadlines, sometimes articles about tragedy, disaster or wrongdoing have to be reported as they stand; the work of healing or response may be preliminary or undeveloped at that time.

This will likely be reported on later.

However, in a newspaper, stories that are published at deadline when the “hopeful” elements of response or healing are still developing, do not sit in isolation. They are part of a whole package, which usually has plenty of other stories of goodness, healing and hope. The same might be said of many Catholic news websites. The situation can be different in some social media newsfeeds
— where stories can appear in isolation, preceded and followed by random items, which may or may not have elements of hope.

Sometimes, Church news stories might not have discernible aspects of hope about them — but the fact that they are being reported upon at all in Catholic media can itself be seen as a sign of hope. The interaction of the Church in this country with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care is a case in point. Authentic reform requires an honest account of where the Church is at, as it were.

There are also occasions when words seem superfluous — so working an article so as to emphasise “hope” would come across as superfluous too. An example was the visit of Pope Francis to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in 2016. Francis was famously photographed walking through the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at the entrance to the camps in which 1.1 million people were killed, most of them Jews. Francis was also famously reported as making no public statement. According to a Guardian report, Francis had said he wanted his visit — the third by a pope — to be conducted in silence. “I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds — only the few people necessary. Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.” His only public words, the Guardian reported, were written in the Auschwitz guest book: “Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

For a Pontiff who preaches the Gospel of Hope every day, his silence spoke volumes.

In facing up to humanity’s capacity for evil, hope does not delude itself, but situates itself in reality. It is of that reality, in the broadest sense, that Catholic media should give an account.

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Michael Otto

Reader Interactions


  1. Nigel Williamson says

    With the influence of motion pictures, the playing field
    has become one of shamelessness, as it is now clear.
    To change that will mean individuals seek hope in their
    lives, not despair. Life can be tough, but it is hope that
    carries the individual on towards an eternal life.
    Catholics are slow to admit to the quantity of TV etc,
    that the watch, and this reluctance eventually
    percolates out into community life, so that values
    of motion picture are translated out. Loss of values
    of antecedents manifests itself in society, so that today,
    few if any males have not viewed some porn.
    Porn and domestic violence are linked, and if the
    latter is on the rise, it is because Good Catholics are
    not discriminatory about TV.
    For the devout Catholic hope is crucial, but when his
    or her friends have succumbed to the influence of TV,
    the sense of the Sacred is slowly lost.
    Restoration of shame is one of the benefits of those
    who seek a more intense life of Christ in Catholic
    charismatic renewal. These are they who are the
    prophets of hope. Suppression of CCR or of
    downplaying its effectiveness is to attempt to
    downplay the living God, the Holy Spirit, and this
    leads to the irreverence of the Divine, and disinterest
    in holiness. Sanctification is the most important aspect
    in every individual’s life, and hope in eternal life is
    a major factor in the life of Christ. This is why it
    is important to recognise that there is now no dichotomy
    between charismatic and Sacrament.
    This topic needs to be reflected upon deeply by all
    members of the church.
    Charismatic Catholics pray over Pope Francis…

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