(Beirut) The teaching of the Church must be taken into account when dealing with the traditional media or social media, with issues and situatikns that affect the teaching and content of the Catholic faith.
This is emphasized by the Maronite Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai OMM, patriarch of Antioch and the whole Orient of the unified Rome-affiliated Syriac-Maronite Church, in a document entitled "The Truth, Liberated and Unified," which has been published on Monday, April 9. On the same day, Pope Francis published in Rome his most recent Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Esuktate. However, the orientation of the two documents is different.
The Patriarch's document is meant to provide some kind of manual, criteria and guidance that should inspire and guide interventions and debates on topics and issues of the Catholic Church's doctrine and magisterium, following disputes over teaching issues in recent months also happening in the social media that have created confusion among the faithful. Therefore, the Patriarch advises restraint, recalls ecclesiastical order and emphasizes the strict observance and promotion of ecclesiastical doctrine.
The Shepherd of the Maronites
The Patriarch's document is divided into six chapters and 57 paragraphs. It provides criteria to consider when participating in discussions within and outside the Church. As criteria the patriarch names Holy Scripture, its exegesis, the historicity of the Gospels, the dogmas of the Catholic faith, the Virgin Mary and her role in the history of salvation and prayer. But also the nature and the work of the devil, Hell and ecclesiastically recognized Marian apparitions must be considered. The cardinal also comments on private revelations.
With his pastoral hints, the Patriarch asks in particular not to use social media as a means to stir up polemics and to launch personal attacks. In particular, the document calls on all priests and religious not to use the media and the Internet for interventions or to participate in theological-doctrinal discussions without the consent of their bishops or their superiors.
The publication of such a theological-pastoral "Handbook" was already on the agenda of the annual Synod of the Maronite Church in June 2017. At that time, Patriarch Rai has lamented in his opening speech a "weakening of the theological, dogmatic and spiritual preparation" of the clergy and recalled the phenomenon of priests who seem to be pleased with the media's interest in their person and "without formal permission" from their superiors,
to practice a "medial hyperactivism".
Text: Fides / Giuseppe Nardi
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org