LAY CATHOLICS IN THE PUBLISHING APOSTOLATEThe lay faithful too, within certain limits, can and must be apostles in the Church. Their role is to help the clergy.
Their cooperation in the publishing apostolate, in particular, can be both negative and positive.
This is obligatory; it consists, effectively, in withholding cooperation with respect to harmful and irreligious publications, whether on the editorial, the technical or the promotional level.
On the editorial level: not only must they eschew publications which run counter to the Gospel and the Church, but they must not give any intellectual contribution or moral support to publications hostile or indifferent to religious matters.
On the technical level: they must deny their own labor, the use of equipment, work place, means etc., when the job is designed to undermine faith or morals.
On the promotional level: they must refrain from promoting or distributing publications which are, in any way, contrary to the faith and the Christian life.
There is, moreover, an obligation on Catholics - to speak only of the press - not to read books contrary to the faith and Christian morals (except in very special cases to be acknowledged and examined by Church authority). Indeed, not to read literature of a sentimental or mystical-sensual type, as well as books that dull a true Catholic conscience by trying to reconcile non-Catholic teaching and worldly morals with the doctrine and morals of the holy Gospel.
They, instead, must read, use, and follow in their studies and formation books that have the Church's praiseworthy approval. Further, insofar as possible, they must help to remove the scandal and eliminate the very serious sins of the bad press with all licit means such as
blocking certain publications, denouncing them, burning them, if needs be, substituting them when possible, and prohibiting them if they have the legal power to do so.
Not only is it important but it is necessary for all Catholics to concern themselves with publishing; first, as a work of Catholic action above all others because it shapes the thinking, the lives and the feelings of people; secondly, as a work of faith which is entrusted directly to the clergy and, indirectly, by way of cooperation, to every Catholic.
In practice this means they can be involved directly by spreading, promoting and defending the apostolate of the Catholic hierarchy and, indirectly, by offering their cooperation to the publishing apostolate by means of prayer, sacrifice and action.
Direct cooperation is, in the main, reserved to lay people who have a role of authority in government or teaching, and also to those who for various reasons can influence others.
Indirect cooperation, instead, is open to all Catholics, but in due proportion and to varying degrees.
All, without exception, can act jointly through prayer and sacrifice to atone for the offenses given to God by [bad] publications
and to implore light, strength and grace for apostles of the press and for an expansion of their apostolate.
Prayer and sacrifice constitute the great strengths of the apostolate. They engender apostles, they sustain them in the virtues necessary for their state, they procure light and comfort, and the salvation of people's souls.
Many Catholics, moreover, can provide this apostolate with what matters most after God's grace; that is to say, they can provide it with vocations.
Parents can give their sons and daughters, and be rightly proud of them, for if ink is worth the blood of martyrs, then they are giving apostles to the Church and, in a certain sense, martyrs as well.
Teachers can instruct their pupils; the faithful can start initiatives or support those already in place.
In accordance with their state, all are able to instruct their peers by means of conferences, articles and talks on the great danger that results from the widespread promotion of bad publications, as well as on the great prospects for the apostolate of Catholic publications.
Many people are able to cooperate occasionally by contributing to all three parts of the apostolate, or if not then at least to an editorial role, or to a technical or promotional role.
As regards the editorial role, all lay Catholics ought always to promote Catholic publications. This is true for any subject: sociology, politics, history, literature, the arts, the branches of science, philosophy, law...
Theirs, in particular, is the wide open field of the application of the principles of the Gospel to science and the arts in the broadest sense; namely, to historical and civil science; to ethical and demographic social sciences; to music, painting, architecture; to the branches of knowledge concerning both private and public law; to philosophy and ethics, and so on.
Theirs, too, is the tremendous duty of applying the instructions of the Divine Teacher to laws and to political, social and domestic life.
Many lay Catholics are also able to deal with religion. However, they do need suitable doctrinal preparation. Their work, in this case, must have the approval of Church authority and depend on the Catholic hierarchy.
It is for all Catholics, according to their circumstances, to cooperate in the publishing apostolate through their offerings and material help, just as they dutifully do so for catechetical works, for preaching, and for the missions. Gospel works and gospel workers must have a beginning, a livelihood, and produce their wholesome results.
Catholics are also able to offer their moral
help by way of encouragement, defense and promotion, all in accordance with their social status: the magistrate as magistrate, the parent as parent, the employer as employer, the worker as worker.
Lastly, there is for the Catholic - generally speaking - in dependence on and in union with the clergy, a wide-open field of editorial and technical work, newsgathering, administration and distribution in the vast field of the press, the cinema and the radio.
As regards the technical part lay Catholics can supply the publishing apostolate with material means and offer their services.
Technically perfect publications require, of necessity, machinery, equipment and countless1 other resources.
Good-willed Catholics, aware that they are doing a noble work, will know when and how to come to the aid and needs of the apostolate. Such a need is highly meritorious in the eyes of God, themselves, people and society.
Lastly, the biggest problem in the publishing apostolate is the issue of promotion. Its solution depends, to a great extent, on help from lay people. The ways in which such help will come are incalculable and, as such, they will vary according to the circumstances and depend on the enthusiasm engendered by the initiatives.
1 * The Italian text reads: Indefiniti sta per innumerevoli.