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July 3, 1998     The Message
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11998 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 Bishops condemn sex, violence in media By JERRY FILTEAU Service (CNS) -- The :bishops condemned . excessive violence uses of 19. Pittsburgh June approved the by a vote of "Renewing the A statement Exploitation in Commu- Lynch of St. Fla., head of the Cam- the statement discussion. the statement "a document" that !.the bishops set policy of communica- and "have" some huge problem." those who urged statement was [William H. Keeler of who said'the state- be extremely helpful in Several ways" and urgent need." a moment when we Say Something and say said Bishop Donald Pittsburgh. "Never have young to this (violent explicit) material do today." said the state- a first for the to the best of research that we have done," he said, "has never specifically spoken in a particular document to the exploitation of pornography and violence by the media." He said the document "will establish the policy" which the bishops and their committees will then be able to build on to "get the message across" in other ways as occasions arise. The document includes an analytic commentary on issues of government regulatory pow- ers and their constitutional lim- its and on the responsibilities of those in the media. It says, "The media have such potential to bring truth and beauty into the lives of billions of people that we cannot permit them to be the arena of those who would pervert God's gift of the body and sexuality." But it adds: "Contemporary means of communication have made the depiction of pornogra- phy and graphic, gratuitous vio- lence more intense and wide- spread. Though not legally obscene or as offensively violent, nearly equally objectionable uses of sex and violence have become prevalent even in some forms of mainstream media. "Short of these extremes, the media often use sex and vio- lence in a frivolous and titillat- ing way which causes a great deal of concern because it per- vades the media, both news and entertainment programs." While television and film have often been among the main sources of concern in the past, it says, "other forms of media, new and old, also influ- ence young people and adults meeting at a glance When the U.S. bishops met June 18- for their spring meeting, they: 2 of a new Lectionary for Mass, with a e years it should undergo a "full review.. o its possible updating." Vatican approval is still changes in Catholic Campaign for ; guidelines to keep CCHD funds in activities contrary to Catholic teaching. a statement, "Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Directions," that commits them to sharing the every level of Catholic education and faith forma- to a panel their fellow bishops ; for America. "Renewing the Mind of the Media: Via- which condemned "pornography, ., uses of sex and via- a draft Louis Medical Center to a :are chain. Christi, in Latin America, outstrip the capabilities of the national in Latin America, which has distrib- 1976. recondliation and forgiveness the Year 2000, which focuses on sacra- blshOl  the draft in Itir ', to report on the corttent > John S. Cummins of Oakland, Calif., who noted Legal Immigration Network has pro- or reprtnmntation on an averase of nearly since CLINIC's foundg 10 years ago. - to engage in morally and socially destructive forms of behavior." It calls the Internet a "gateway to a vast world of learning and information" but says its useful- ness is compromised by numer- ous "adult" and hate sites which make it "a means of adults and children accessing obscenity, violence and prejudice." Other concerns the bishops cite include obscene and violent messages in music lyrics, angry and indecent language on talk radio, "brutal video games," telephone sex-talk services and the X-rated materials available in many video outlets and mag- azine racks. - In the statement the bishops call pornography an offense "against the divine plan for the body and for the intimacy of sexual union." They acknowledge that some would debate the claims that pornography is morally desen- sitizing, in some cases is addic- tive, harms marriage and fami- ly life and sometimes can incite its users to rape, child abuse and other crimes against others. "From long pastoral experi- ence," the bishops sa}; "the church knows that man), people do indeed experience a connec- tion between pornography and tendencies toward these per- sonal and social evils." The statement analyzes the exploitative or frivolous use of violence in the media along sim- ilar lines. "As in the case of sexualit};" it says, "it is not so much the portrayal of violence that is wrong but its misuse which makes it an end in itself and draws either no consequences or the wrong ones from it." It notes that numerous stud- ies over the past four decades "have found a connection between violence on the screen and in real life." In the area of public policy the statement urges government to enforce obscenity and child pornography laws and to "reassert its regulatory role" over broadcast media, which "is clearly established in law." Required reading? The U.S. bishops want parents to set an example for their children, guide them, and teach them responsibility and self-discipline in their use of media. -- Message photo by Paul R. Leingang Bishops at workshop discuss clergy sex abuse By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service PITISBURGH (CNS) -- Before their June meeting the U.S. Catholic bishops devoted a full morning to a workshop on vari- ous aspects of how to deal with sexual abuse of minors by priests. Bishop John F. Kinney of St. Cloud, Minn., whose Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse coordinated the workshop, called it "a very positive meet- ing" in which they were able to -share information on several aspects of the issue. In an interview with Catholic News Service, he said one of the topics discussed was "ministry to the victims." He said the committee shared "things we've learned from vic- tims' advocates and organiza- tions" about what approaches can help bring healing and rec- onciliation and "what to avoid doing" becau it can cause hurt and alienation. He said the workshop also includtx| panels on the relatkm- ship between the bishop and a priest who has abused a child, on how to relate to the media in a more positive way and on var- ious legal issues. The panel on bishop and priest also dealt with how the bishop should deal with the rest of his priests, who are "wound- ed" by the failure of one of their members, he said. Bishop Kinney said about 150 bishops attended the workshop, more than two- thirds of the approximately 220 bishops present for the June 18-20 general meeting in Pittsburgh that followed. The workshop took place the morning of June 18 and the meeting started that afternoon. "I think it was a step for- ward," he said. "It was anoth- er indication of the interest and will of the bishops to continue addressing this issue in their dioceses." When asked about the rt"ent resignation of Bishop J. Keith Symons of Palm Beach. Fla., who admitted having ,sexually abused several minors many years ago, Bishop Kinney mid that was not among the topics discussed in the workshop; But he praised Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., who has been assigned to administer the Palm Beach Dio- cese until a successor is named, for handling the announcement of the resignation and the rea- sons "in a straightforward way, the way the church needs to address it." He said that his committee, formed in 1993 to help the bishops develop resources and understanding to confront the multiple pastoral and other challenges posed by clergy sexual abuse of minors, is still working on issues of "minis-. feting to the victims.., tDing to develop models (of effective ministry) that can be used in dioceses." The committee "is also grap- pling with what to do after a priest goes through treatment.. .. There is still a lack of clari them" about the conditkms of or even possibility, of return to some form of ministry, he said. He said a third area the com- mittee is working on is that of ongoing education and pre- vention.