Media in the Eyes of the Church
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
Finding ourselves in the current politically charged environment that we do, it’s easy to overlook the Eighth Commandment’s relevance beyond the obvious concerns about truth and falsehood.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church spends considerable time elaborating on something else which falls under this commandment and is equally relevant at this time. This is the delivery of information itself within society, in the form of media. 
Sections 2493-2499 speak about the critical role that media (the means of social communication) and “the media” (all those entrusted with collecting and conveying the news) play in any public discourse. 
As Catholics, it can be useful to read or reread these sections. While we may have little control over how other people use media or the ways in which it can be used for or against people, it nevertheless is important to see how the Church approaches the topic and the instruction it offers. 
As both consumers and participants ourselves, the Church’s wisdom and moral guidance is worth paying attention to. Reading through these sections, it’s interesting to note that the current catechism was released in the mid-1990s — when email was still a new phenomenon and long before many of the current social media outlets were even conceived. 
Perhaps more remarkable still, it often cites a Church document from the early 1960s. And yet, as is so often the case, the basic principles remain as relevant today as ever — in some ways, perhaps even more so.
For purposes here, I’ll simply highlight a few insights the catechism offers which seem particularly timely. The first is this: “The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good.” (CCC 2494) This is very important. 
The information provided by those in public media is not supposed to be at the service of a particular political party, ideology, narrative or social agenda. Rather, it is meant to be used for the common good — for the good of all members of a society and for the proper functioning of that same society. 
To fail at serving the common good becomes not only a distortion of the media’s most noble purpose, but a contributor to the destruction of the society it is meant to serve. 
The catechism also points out that the media should be an instrument for supporting and even building solidarity. Solidarity here means the underlying unity that all people share. In Catholic theology this is founded on our common origin and the fact that all people, from the first moment of conception, share in the dignity which flows from being made in the image and likeness of God. 
As the catechism says in section 2495, “Solidarity is a consequence of genuine and right communication and the free circulation of ideas that further knowledge and respect for others.” Notice that for this solidarity to exist, there must be both “genuine and right communication” (i.e. it must be truthful, fair and complete) and “the free circulation of ideas” (i.e. avoiding one-sidedness and censorship).  
In this way, once again, the media can play an important role in serving the common good by being an instrument for building solidarity, or, on the contrary, one which moves society further and further from it. 
Finally, the last two catechism sections mentioned include stark warnings about possible abuses. These are not only offenses against the Eighth Commandment, but further threats to undermine the common good and human dignity. They would include things like using disinformation in an attempt to manipulate public opinion, falsifying the truth, exercising political control of opinion through the media, or other efforts to repress thoughts or ideas considered not to be in conformity with what is deemed acceptable. 
In an effort to be responsible citizens in very tumultuous times, it becomes ever more important to strive to be both critical in our consumption and charitable in our use of the modern forms of media at our disposal.