Pope’s prayer for media– ‘Remove the venom in our judgments’

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POPE FRANCIS ended his World Communications Day (WCD) 2018 message with a prayer for journalists and the journalism industry, of which some of the lines were taken from the prayer of his namesake—Francis of Assisi.

At a time when the Church is taking a lot of abuse from President Duterte, it is instructive for us to revisit the Pope’s WCD message.

Some people would say that the Church is already a spent force and would be unable to provide an effective foil to the excesses of the new regime, but the fact that it continues to be crucified by Duterte should indicate how the President considers it a force to reckon with.

Some of our bishops and priests, despite not having the political clout and charisma of their predecessors like that of Jaime Cardinal Sin, are capable of striking back at the President and putting him in his place.

Last June, Duterte ridiculed the Genesis story of the fall of man and called God “stupid.”

The remark turned him against a huge number of Filipinos, some of whom were admittedly his supporters.

These rants against the Church might have come to a halt, but only temporarily.

There are a lot of reasons why the President might have been feeling that it is okay to dig out unnecessary dirt on the Church. And while the secular press is always ready to nail Duterte when he speaks ill of the country’s faith, they are not completely blameless.

Journalists after all are wont to present the Church as just another bureaucratic institution rife with scandal and controversy and also one the press could turn for fiery soundbites in key public issues the better to sensationalize current events.

As what retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz has told the Varsitarian, the press should not insist when they feel that Church officials want to remain silent. And perhaps more important, that the press should not entrap Churchmen to tell them what they want to hear.

The Church is not to be likened to the Duterte administration nor show biz– where scandals and controversies are the order of the day.

Notwithstanding writing or producing news about the Church at large, journalists are called serve their profession with its main objective–which is to report and disseminate the truth.

In my brief stint as the custodian of the Varsitarian’s Religion (Witness) page, I was able to propose and handle stories that come not only from statements of our moral shepherds but those that come from the level of dioceses and even from the grassroots communities that the Church tends to.

It is not impossible to look for stories like these.

Toward the end of his WCD 2018 Message, the Pope makes the “Prayer for News” ––“[Lord], help us to remove the venom from our judgments.”

Journalists are not the sole bearers of the responsibility to cleanse the world of venomous judgments, the responsibility applies to all the descendants who have fallen ill to the serpent’s lies.

We have been offered an idea to promote peace and communion in our journalism, atop ensuring accuracy to generate trust from the public, and it is ours for the taking. We now have a choice to put an end to fake news, injustice, and social turmoil.

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This is my final column for the Varsitarian and it is time for someone else to take the helm that I once held for 12 months.

I have experienced digging out a lot of newspapers from the archives to read. And I know that years from now, this copy will be mingling with spiders and dust in the archives. At least, this copy will share a room with copies where the all-time-greats have been a part of one way or another, even if I myself could not become one of them.

At this point, a show of gratitude is in order for their highnesses Lito Zulueta, Ipe Salvosa and Christian Esguerra; I am forever grateful for your inspired work for the Varsitarian and for the knowledge that you have imparted to me along the way.

To my parents who have moved heaven and earth to help me finish my studies, I hope this makes up for all the times that you’ve been called to appear with me before a disciplinary official.

I would have never entered the halls of the Varsitarian without the help of my best friend Champ and his family. Mine and my family’s heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts.

And to my late grandmother, you were right to fear my choosing of a profession in journalism. I will be making ends meet, but you taught me how to pull through hard times. I hope I made you proud.

And my biggest thanks for the Varsitarian who has helped me overcome the ignorance that I was unwittingly nursing throughout these years. I am forever indebted to this publication that taught me things beyond my intent, whether in journalism or in discerning truths.

Thank you for lending me a space for my column.

 

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