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“Mass Media, Ethics, and Faith: The Catholic Church’s Conversation with the World”

By Margaux Kay LaPointe, ‘11

From Rome, Italy, Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, traveled to Villanova University to speak about “Mass Media, Ethics, and Faith: The Catholic Church’s Conversation with the World,” on Friday, Sept. 19. During the talk, he discussed the role of the Pontifical Council as a mediator between the Vatican and society through modern technology.

Monsignor Tighe was a professor of ethics and theology at Mater Dei Institute in Dublin, Ireland, for 20 years. His personal interests lie in how law and ethics operate in Irish open forums on policy issues. Before accepting his position at the Pontifical Council in 2007, Tighe worked in the Archdiocese of Dublin. 

The Pontifical Council works with the Vatican on communication and ethics issues. It strives to unify the Vatican’s various media. According to Tighe, the Council operates on two levels, both operational and pastoral. 

“We continue to be responsible for the accreditation of audio and video media,” Tighe said. The Council works with television and film crews that want to feature the Vatican, helping them gain knowledge and background information. Additionally, the Council is responsible for translating the text of speeches, such as those used during Christmas and Easter ceremonies, for mass media uses. The Council coordinates and organizes information for broadcasters around the globe.

The pastoral role, according to Tighe, is “really theory, thinking and reflecting on communication…its role in the Church and the world in general.” Thus, the Council is focused on social communications, which are concerned with the world’s people, rather than mass communications. 

Tighe believes that from a theological perspective, “communication is at the heart of what Christianity is about.” Religion should involve personal relationships, and “all theology about God should be communicative,” he said.

The World Communications Day was created by the Second Vatican Council to provide an annual message from the Church to the world.  The message, given at the end of January, “reflects on the role of communication at the heart of the Church.” The 2008 message from the Pope concerned “media at a crossroads between protagonists and those there to tell the truth,” Tighe said. 

In conjunction with World Communications Day, the Council produces documents on related themes. Such research helps to develop different means of communication in different and varying cultures. 

The Vatican holds a responsibility to maintain truth and trust in society, and consider “to what extent human dignity is upheld,” Tighe said. The Pontifical Council is this voice from the Church to the world, and is a voice for underrepresented countries and their ideas. 

For more information, visit the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Margaux Kay LaPointe, ’11, is a sophomore from Lebanon, Pa. She is an intern in the Office of Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Margaux is majoring in communication with a specialization in public relations.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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