The recent declarations made by Pope Francis, who firmly rose against paedophilia within the Church, drew (once again) the media attention with negative consequences for the reputation of the Catholic Church and the role of priests. Recently, special emphasis was given to a letter written in 2010 by Father Martín Lasarte – a Salesian Uruguayan missionary who was in Angola at that time – and sent to the New York Times.
“I see in many media, especially in your newspaper, the broadening of the subject in a morbid way, investigating in detail the life of a paedophile priest. This is how one of a city in the USA, from the 70s, another one in Australia in the 80s and that is how it looks, other recent cases … Certainly all condemnable! Some journalistic presentations are weighted and balanced, others amplified, full of preconceptions and even hatred.
It gives me great pain because of the profound evil that people, which should be signs of God’s love, be a dagger in the lives of innocents. There is no word that justifies such acts. There is no doubt that the Church cannot be, but on the side of the weak, of the most defenceless. Therefore all measures taken for the protection, prevention of the dignity of children will always be an absolute priority.
But it is curious the little news and disinterest by thousands and thousands of priests who are consumed by millions of children, by adolescents and the most disadvantaged in the four corners of the world!”
In his letter, Father Lasarte regrets the attention that the media pays to the abuses by few priests and is surprised at the poor interest in the daily work of thousands of good priests.
The letter describes the silent work of many priests who help poor and needy people. However, their actions don’t make headlines.
“Insisting in an obsessed and persecutory way on a subject losing the overall vision creates truly offensive cartoons of the Catholic priesthood in which I feel offended,” the missionary says “Journalist, look for the Truth, the Good and the Beauty. That will make him noble in his profession…”
It seems that nobody ever replied to the letter, which was recently mentioned by the Avvenire newspaper.
Mass-media acts as an amplifier: if you tell only the negative aspects of an event, albeit serious, you will disseminate negativity, frustration, injustice and helplessness in relation to problems that are likely to be limited to a few cases. Negative aspects are worth being reported. However, journalists should provide readers with a global overview and outline the right context for each fact.