Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


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The press has a responsibility towards the cinema as well as a role of collaboration of the utmost importance.

Pius XI spoke of this responsibility in a talk given on 21 April 1936 to the Delegates of the International Congress of the Motion Picture Press.
"The cinema" he said "would not be what it is, if the press had always followed it, right from the beginning, in a necessarily circumspect and firm way; if the motion picture press had fulfilled its role, at all times, in conformity with courage, truth and justice, allotting to such antecedents praise and blame."
Such responsibility for the past does not diminish with the passing of time; it increases. In fact, people assert, and quite rightly, that the cinema of the future will be what the press of today wants it to be.

Possibility of collaboration
The work of christianizing the cinema public and the task of shaping a Catholic cinema are, to a great extent, in the hands of the press. In fact, with its help, it is possible to make action and defense initiatives stronger.
However, among all such initiatives, there is one in particular that is reserved to the press. This is the notification list of motion pictures that gives advance news about those that are for general viewing and those that are not.
Such notification follows on a review of all the motion pictures in circulation and a classification according to their moral quality. Such revision and classification is not, generally speaking, the work of private individuals, because there are bodies directly set up by Church authority to do this.1
The notification list, instead, is the concern of the press and of the press apostolate in particular. In the above-mentioned Letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State
Eugenio Pacelli to Cardinal Brochée [= Can. Brohée] we read: "It is important that Catholic newspapers have a classified list of motion pictures that indicates the [films] that are good and those that are bad."
The press apostolate should first of all place itself at the service of the legitimate reviewing bodies so as to restate the judgments of these boards, explaining them and corroborating them. It should never be seen to contradict them. This would be to undertake a private initiative. Motion pictures that are bad are to be classified as bad. Do not confuse aesthetic taste with moral principles. Recommend highly the viewing of motion pictures that are truly worthwhile.
In this way the public will be able to go to the cinema without any misgivings; people will prefer to see good motion pictures and, as a result, these will acquire prestige for the producers, the distributors and also for the owners of the movie theaters.
Generally speaking, it is not advisable to make a lot of noise about immoral motion pictures or to organize protests. This could produce the opposite effect to the one desired.
In sum: the press placed at the service of the cinema apostolate and in collaboration with it makes it stronger, in view of the glory of God and the benefit of the spiritual life of people.

1 In Italy such authority is entrusted to the Centro Cattolico Cinematografico (CCC) in Rome, at present in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 337.