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Pope John Paul II and Media Effects Theory: Audiences and Messages Interface

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A re-reading of Pope John Paul II’s texts led me to the conclusion that he applied media effects theory to his reflections in social communications. What were the topics contained in the reflections of Pope John Paul II about impacts of media on the audiences, using missionary commitments in Catholic Church as a case study? The article’s analysis revealed that John Paul II’s views about media effects were shaped by two-step flow theory of media effects.
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2016. The Authors, International Journal of Scientific Footprints
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Pope John Paul II and Media Effects Theory: Audiences and Messages
Interface
Dr. Paul Anyidoho
Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrook West AD 103.8
Montreal. Quebec. Canada
Keywords:
Pope John Paul II; Media Effects; Social
Communications; Catholic Church; Mass
Media; Secularization.
Correspondence:
Dr. Paul Anyidoho. Con cor di a
Uni ve rs it y, 7 14 1 Sh er br ook W es t
AD 10 3. 8, Mo nt re al . Q ue be c.
Cana d a.
Funding
Info
rmation:
No funding information pr ovided
.
Manuscript History:
Received: September 2016
Accepted: November
2016
International Journal of Scientific
Footprints 2016;
4(2):
111
Abstract
Pope John Paul II encouraged people to make good use of the means of social
communications to sustain positive impacts of contemporary media on audiences.
A re-reading of Pope John Paul II‘s texts led me to the conclusion that he applied
media effects theory to his reflections in social communications. What were the
topics contained in the reflections of Pope John Paul II about impacts of media on
the audiences, using missionary commitments in Catholic Church as a case study?
This article examined selected texts of St. John Paul II on four major impacts of
media: secularization in the world, power of new instruments of communication,
globalization of communication, and visibility of the Church in the world of the
twenty-first century. The article‘s analysis revealed that John Paul II‘s views about
media effects were shaped by two-step flow theory of media effects.
Introduction
Conceptual perspectives of this article were based on
the model of Mugridge and Gannon (2008), who
carried out a systematic study of what they referred to
as the social communication and theology of
communication of St. John Paul II. These authors
demonstrated that Pope John Paul II broadened the
understanding of social communication in the Catholic
Church (22-23)
1
. I based this analysis on their
traditional (doctrinal) perspective of social
communications‖ to examine the adverse impact of
1
Eilers (2009) argued that Mugridge and Gannon presented John
Paul II as the precursor to the development of a theology of
communication, but in reality, Pius XII had already provided an
approach for examining social communication in his encyclical
Miranda Prorsus, already provided an approach to examine social
communications. According to Eilers, Pius XII did not specifically
use the term theology of communication, but he had already
established the basis to draft guidelines for the use of the social
communication instruments. Pius XII‘s views influenced the content
of the Decree Inter Mirifica of (Vatican II).
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
contemporary media
2
on the Church‘s mission, as
observed in the writings of John Paul II. I modified
―tradition‖ and ―doctrine‖ cited in the
Mugridge/Gannon model to ―conceptual perspectives
of social communications.‖ I was interested in the
following:
A. Problems that Pope John Paul II attributed to
the media‘s effects on evangelization
B. Contributions of Pope John Paul II to social
communications after Vatican II
My objective was to examine problems posed by media
with regards to the faith-based audiences, as suggested
by St. John Paul II.
Materials and Methods
The focus of this analysis was negative effects of
contemporary media, although positive influences were
examined briefly. For Pope John Paul II, the impact of
social media on the Church‘s mission and society has
been both positive (e.g., quick accessibility to
information sources) and negative (e.g., the potential
for modern media to become instruments of
intimidation). As a positive acknowledgement, Pope
John Paul II wrote the following in an apostolic letter to
journalists and media users to clarify important
components of social communication:
We give thanks to God for the presence of these
powerful media which, if used by believers with the
genius of faith and in docility to the light of the Holy
Spirit, can facilitate the communication of the Gospel
and render the bonds of communion among ecclesial
2
John Paul II‘s writings often referred to the following media:
Internet, YouTube, Twitter, the World Wide Web, television, radio,
and newspapers
communities more effective. (Rapid Development, §6)
In this letter, John Paul II invited believers to use
modern media as inspired by intellect and faith to
proclaim the Gospel and increase the bond of
communion among ecclesial communities and
churches.
Through my rereading of the works of John Paul II
(1991, 1993, 1999, 2002 and 2005)
3
, I noticed that his
ideas about social communication appeared to have
been prompted by issues such as globalization,
secularization, audience influences, media
content/effects, and visibility of the Catholic Church
during the era of social media and, ultimately, the
global power of contemporary media. Because some of
these topics are relevant in media studies,
communication studies, and social communications, I
decided to examine critically the content of John Paul
II‘s works regarding social communications.
I also aimed to describe a model for media effects that
was behind St. John Paul II‘s media reflections. My
analysis of the communication model of his works were
based on the two-step flow theory, which suggested
that messages flow uni-directionally from media
sources through opinion leaders or media specialists
prior to influencing the intended audiences. This
perspective of communication theory held that opinion
leaders couched messages in media in such ways that
the content of messages influenced attitudes, behavior
patterns, taste, and perceptions of their audiences (see
Lowery and DeFleur, 1983; Baran and Davis, 2009;
and Staubhaar, LaRose, and Davenport, 2009).
3
Eilers (2009) critiqued Mugridge and Gannon for omitting the most
important work, Redemptoris Missio, with which John Paul II
broadened the concept and offered a new perspective of Catholic
social communication
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
Results and Discussions
After analyzing the content of John Paul II‘s writings
about media effects on Church evangelization, I
categorized his views on this subject according to four
main topics: secularization throughout the world, the
power of new communication instruments,
globalization of communication, and diminished
visibility of the Church in the 21st century. Each of the
four themes were necessary to capture the Pope‘s entire
media reflections. Given that some aspects of these
themes were prominent in works of McGregor (2012),
Barbey (2010), Kappeler (2009), Mugridge and
Gannon (2008), Himes (2008), Zagacki (2001), and
Melady (1999)
4
, I drew on them to guide my rereading
of the works of Pope John Paul II.
Secularization throughout the world
Pope John Paul II was very friendly to media personnel
throughout his pontificate, but he drew attention to his
readers about the manner in which the media
sometimes contributed to the ongoing accelerating
secularization throughout the world. He described
secularization in terms of ―de-Christianization within
Christian countries” (Redemptoris Missio, §36)
5
.
Further, he stated the following:
This separation represents one of the most acute
4
These authors stated that John Paul II‘s understanding of media
effects were shaped by one of these four main topics (see McGregor
2012, 79-80; Himes 2008, 270; LeTourneau 2004, 116; Lecomte
2003, 517; Zagacki 2001, 691-692; Melady 1999, 10-11; Coleman
1980, 545).
5
Zagacki noted that John Paul II was concerned with global
secularization, stating, ―In Poland and Cuba, John Paul saw nations
twisting precariously in the grips of [the] secularnamely,
Communist governments that had stifled citizens‘ political and
religious freedoms‖ (2001:692). He observed that John Paul II
wanted to find solutions to situations affecting the exercise of religion
in these two countries.
pastoral concerns of the Church amid today’s growing
secularism, wherein many, indeed too many, people
think and live “as if God did not exist.” We are
speaking of a mentality which affects, often in a
profound, extensive and all-embracing way, even the
attitudes and behavior of Christians, whose faith is
weakened and loses its character as a new and original
criterion for thinking and acting in personal, family,
and social life. In a widely de-Christianized culture, the
criteria employed by believers themselves in making
judgments and decisions often appear extraneous or
even contrary to those of the Gospel. (Veritatis
Splendor, §88)
Pope John Paul II‘s communications in Veritatis
Splendor offered a glimpse of his communication
model regarding media effects. I expressed this model
as follows:
Contemporary media media agents secularization
in the world
For Pope John Paul II, contemporary media could be
neutral channels of communication, but some media
agents such as producers, media organizations,
journalists, political systems and other stakeholders
could disseminate content of messages through various
media to influence their intended audiences. Pope John
Paul II noted that secularization was an actual topic that
media agents referred to whenever they presented their
messages to their audiences. This situation prompted
Pope John Paul II‘s reflections on the impact of media
on evangelization.
Zagacki (2001) observed that one of the commitments
of John Paul II in the field of social communications
boiled down to finding an adequate and effective means
to overcome the acceleration of secularization through
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
the media
6
. According to Melady (1999), Pope John
Paul II used modern media with unprecedented
amplitude to overcome effects of secularization:
Because he has travelled more frequently and
extensively than any other modern pope, John Paul II’s
overseas visits, their technique, forms and practices are
a style of communicating that the pope has stamped on
his papacy [...] designed to meet the crisis posed by
increased secularization. (Melady, 1999: 11)
Melady (1999) also noted that secularization made it
difficult for the Catholic Church to promote its
teachings in the public sphere
7
. Melady stated that the
pastoral visits of Pope John Paul II represented a new
horizon in social communications aimed to fill the
chasm created by secularization in the public sphere.
Pope John Paul II‘s views about modern media‘s
accelerating effects on secularization vis-a-vis the
Catholic evangelization validated the two-step flow
model of communication elaborated by Lazarsfeld
(1947), Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955), and Katz (1957).
My analysis of selected texts of Pope John Paul II
revealed that he was convinced that just as some
professionals and journalists fed the content of modern
media with lifestyle options and information, the
Church could create content for modern media to reach
out to its audiences. Thus, Pope John Paul II‘s ideas
6
According to Formicola (2005), themes at the heart of John Paul
II‘s reflections and speeches included freedom of religion, respect for
human dignity, and political justice. Formicola described how John
Paul II spoke about these topics through the media.
7
See Marchessault, G. Médias et foi chrétienne. Deux univers à
concilier. Québec: Les Éditions Fides, 2002; Médiathec. Les médias.
Textes des Églises. Paris: Centurion, 1990; Melady, M. B. M. The
rhetoric of Pope John Paul II. Westport: Greenwood Publishing
Group, Inc., 1999.
contributed to validate a two-step flow model of media
effects in social communications.
Power of new instruments of communication
The powerful influence of modern media was another
issue that St. John Paul II discussed in his reflections
about communications. The power of media here
referred to the ability of media to influence a sequence
of events or behavior patterns. Pope John Paul II spoke
to journalists about the critical effects of the power of
media:
The world of journalism is undergoing a period of
profound changes. The proliferation of new
technologies now affects all areas and concerns [and],
to a greater or lesser extent, human beings.
Globalization has increased the capacity of the means
of social communications, but [it has] also increased
their vulnerability to ideological and commercial
pressures. This should lead you, you journalists, to ask
yourselves about the meaning of your vocation as
Christians involved in the world of communication.
(John Paul II as cited by Mahieu 2005, 345)
Pope John Paul II feared some barriers of media (e.g.,
uncontrolled access to information, lack of
confidentiality, and unedited information on web sites),
which could propagate in the presence of other
catalysts such as ―ideologies,―the desire for profit or
for power,‖ ―rivalries and conflicts between individuals
and groups,‖ and ―human weakness and social
disorders‖ (Rapid Development, §13). He called on
media agents and users to ensure that these barriers
were diminished. Moreover, John Paul II forewarned
that virtual world orchestrated by powerful unintended
impact of the internet could decrease interpersonal
contact in the real world:
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
The fact that through the Internet people multiply their
contacts in ways hitherto unthinkable opens up
wonderful possibilities for spreading the Gospel. But it
is also true that electronically mediated relationships
can never take the place of the direct human contact
required for genuine evangelization. For
evangelization always depends upon the personal
witness of the one sent to evangelize (cf. Romans 10:
14-15). How does the Church lead from the kind of
contact made possible by the Internet to the deeper
communication demanded by Christian proclamation?
(Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel,
§5)
John Paul II feared that the Internet and cyberspace
could have antisocial and inhuman effects on some
audiences:
Despite its enormous potential for good, some of the
degrading and damaging ways in which the Internet
can be used are already obvious to all, and public
authorities surely have a responsibility to guarantee
that this marvelous instrument serves the common good
and does not become a source of harm. (Internet: A
New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel, §4)
Pope John Paul II was concerned that the Internet had a
solid grip on the psychology of individuals in the sense
that modern media could influence behavior because of
the easy access to online information
8
. He was
concerned that individuals could lose their ability to
think critically, and to choose the best option according
to the ―scale of values‖ available to them (Internet: A
8
John Paul II was not the only person who discussed media effects
on audiences. Recupero et al. (2008) and Fiedorowicz and
Chigurupati (2009) attested that Internet content affected the mental
states of individuals by inspiring, for example, harmful thoughts
under certain conditions because of accessible material in cyber
space.
New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel, 4).
He argued that problems related to the powerful impact
of media were enough to motivate authorities,
producers, professionals, and users of media to develop
protective measures to ensure that new means of social
communication contribute to the common good in an
informed and just way.
Pope John Paul II believed that the influence of the
content of the Internet could reduce the voice of the
Gospel and the face of the ultimate good:
The Internet causes billions of images to appear on
millions of computer monitors around the planet. From
this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ
emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only
when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world
will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is
the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will
make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there
is no room for Christ, there is no room for man.
(Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel,
§6)
Pope John Paul II believed that when the Church
offered pastoral ministry and messages in and through
the content of modern media, its evangelization
activities could shape the minds of audiences just as
ideologies of counter authorities and media producers
powerfully influenced behavior patterns of media
audiences. In this sense, Pope John Paul II consistently
followed a two-step flow model about media‘s effects
on audiences.
Globalization of communication
The impact of globalization of communication on
audiences of evangelization was one of the issues that
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
occupied the thoughts of Pope John Paul II. He
indicated that globalization was “a phenomenon” and
“a process made inevitable by increasing
communication between the different parts of the
world, leading practically to reducing distances, with
evident effects in widely different fields.” Additionally,
he defined this phenomenon as “[a process] ruled
merely by the laws of the market solely outlined by the
powerful” (Ecclesia in America, §20).
In examining the impact of the Internet and new means
of global and social communications, Pope John Paul II
acknowledged:
There is also the possibility that it will in fact
aggravate existing inequalities as the information and
communications gap widens. How can we ensure that
the information and communications revolution which
has the Internet as its award-winning engine will work
in favor of the globalization of human development and
solidarity objectives closely linked to the Church’s
evangelizing mission? (Internet: A New Forum for
Proclaiming, §5)
For John Paul II, the globalization of means of
communication increased media-related problems. He
warned believers against subtle pitfalls of global media.
But he also stated, “our own times offer the Church
new opportunities in this field: we have witnessed the
collapse of oppressive ideologies and political systems,
the opening of frontiers, and the formation of a more
united world due to an increase in communications”
(Redemptoris Missio, §3).
By examining the link between globalization and the
media, Pope John Paul II continued the commitment of
Vatican II by inviting the Church to think critically
about the magnitude of globalization and its impact on
the Church‘s mission in the 21st century.
John Paul II‘s two-way flow model enabled him to
understand how the global market, powerful groups,
and certain oppressive systems used modern media to
widen the communication gap and foster inequality in
the world. An understanding of the link between
globalization and modern media inspired John Paul II
to invite the Church to use the same media to
evangelize and witness to the values of the Church‘s
teachings.
Diminishing visibility of the Church in the
contemporary world
The declining visibility of the Catholic Church
throughout the world in the 21st century was another
major issue that Pope John Paul II examined. Pope
John Paul II addressed this problem in social
communications within the Catholic Church during the
post-conciliar period, as described by Ruszkowski
(1988) and Kappeler (2009).
In my opinion, visibility, as a phenomenon, is distinct
from the other three major issues even though it is
clarified and nurtured by them. Visibility is a tangible,
sacred sign and an observable religious presence in the
public sphere. The other three issues can be seen as
external forces that had impacts on the Church in the
world. Pope John Paul II observed:
The first form of witness is the very life of the
missionary of the Christian family and of the ecclesial
community, which reveal a new way of living. The
missionary, who, despite all his or her human
limitations and defects, lives a simple life, taking Christ
as the model, is a sign of God and of transcendent
realities. But everyone in the Church, striving to imitate
the Divine Master, can and must bear this kind of
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
witness; in many cases it is the only possible way of
being a missionary. (Redemptoris Missio, §42)
According to Lecomte (2003), the biggest media-
related issue Pope John Paul II discussed was the
visibility of the Church in the world:
Beyond the popular press, all of the organs of press,
including the most serious, have sacrificed fashionable
people: it gives more to think than to see; it develops
more ideas, it tells stories, it no longer seeks to reveal
the truth, but to elicit the emotion. The consequence
that follows for the Church is that only religious topics
which are now accessing screens revolve around people
known as ―media personalities‖ like Mother Teresa,
Dom Helder Camara, or, in France, the Abbé Pierre.
John Paul II is distressed by this phenomenon [of lack
of visibility] (Lecomte, 2003: 517)
McLuhan (1964) predicted that, despite developments
in means of communication, there would be a return to
popular literature such as storytelling, historical genre,
and other narratives. However, as Lecomte pointed out,
the stories recaptured in modern media often did not
include Bible stories or the history of salvation. I
observed that Pope John Paul II wanted to integrate
Biblical narratives into popular stories of conveyed in
contemporary media. McGregor (2012), for example,
defined Redemptoris Missio of Pope John Paul II as an
assessment of the problems and challenges diminishing
the visibility in the world:
In Redemptoris Missio, he specifically identified new
evangelization with the reevangelization of nations
which had, to a large extent, lost their Christian faith.
He portrayed this ―reevangelization‖ as a response to
the spread of religious indifference, secularism, and
atheism in many nations where Christian faith and life
had formerly flourished, as well as [...] the separation
of faith and culture. This preliminary analysis indicates
that John Paul II saw new evangelization as a response
to a new situation. He saw the Church faced with new
challenges in the form of secularism, atheism, religious
indifference, the separation of faith and culture, and the
growth of poverty and injustice in many parts of the
world. Also, he saw that the Church was developing a
new awareness of its need to respond to these
challenges by deepening the faith of Christians and
their witness to the Gospel, as well as creating new
societies that embody the truths of the Gospel.
(McGregor, 2012: 79-80)
McGregor also considered Redemptoris Missio as a
reflection aimed at suggesting various ways to increase
visibility of the Church throughout the world.Pope John
Paul II‘s reflections on visibility of the Church and
modern media illustrated a two-way flow model of
communication.
Recommendations
Pope John Paul II contributed to ongoing reflections on
the two-way flow model of commucation. Zagacki
(2001) observed that John Paul II encouraged media
agents to provide media content that could help reduce
the rapid growth of secularization in the world. As
exemplar, Pope himself engaged with this effort
through media coverage of his pastoral activities and
travels throughout the world.
Pope John Paul II suggested four strategies that would
allow better mastery over the powerful influences of
modern media: (a) know the media; (b) use the media;
(c) control aspects such as language, nature, and
characteristics of media; and 4. offer pastoral principles
to media professionals. According to Le Tourneau
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
(2004), John Paul II used modern means of
communication to overcome powerful and spontaneous
effects created among Internet users:
In 1987, the Pope recites the Rosary in mondovision.
At Tours, he inaugurated the web site for the
conference of Bishops of France (1996). On March 24,
1997, he held the presentation at a site of the Holy See
and, on May 13, 2000, at Fatima, he led the first
―cyber-beatification.‖ John Paul II sends a message for
the first time in the Internet world in 2001... The Pope
regularly sends a message during the world day of
social communications, convinced that cultures and
consciences [are] facing a new world of images and
sounds (Le Tourneau, 2004:116).
Pope John Paul II also called on members of the
Church to adapt media for pastoral ministry to current
media audiences, agents and cultures (Rapid
Development, 8). Pope John Paul II encouraged
Christians to demonstrate vigilance and to use critical
minds with respect to the persuasive force of media
content (Rapid Development, 13). Additionally, John
Paul II observed:
Indeed, there is already a real noticeable danger that
[...] man should lose the essential threads of his
dominion and in various ways let his human nature be
subjected to the world and become himself something
subject to manipulation in many wayseven if the
handling is often not noticeable directlythrough the
whole of the organization of community life, through
the production system and through pressure from the
means of social communication. (Redemptor Hominis,
§16)
Thus, John Paul II suggested that pastoral training and
education would be options to add additional
dimensions and horizons to the skills of producers,
professionals, and users of modern media so that they
would assume their moral responsibility for promoting
the contemporary means of social communications. He
also encouraged the Church to make use of the
opportunity of contemporary media to evangelize or re-
evangelize the world, in order to catch on the visibility
of the Church in the world.
Having discussed Pope John Paul II‘ s views about the
four topics associated with media effects and some of
the solutions he offered to strengthen Catholic
Church‘s evangelization commitments, I examined his
social communications on the basis of three
perspectives: the communication model, theoretical
stance, and scope.
The communication model connected to the views of
Pope John Paul II was the two-step flow model of
media effects. He perceived media effects in terms of
the following: media agents audiences. He was
convinced that contemporary media per se were neutral
and amoral technology tools for mediating information.
However, he believed that all media agents (e.g.,
producers, media owners, journalists, media
institutions, economic/political systems, and
ideological groups) could use media to provide content
that could impact social behavior, attitudes, thought,
and lifestyles of audiences of media messages. Thus,
Pope John Paul II called for ethical values and actions
to guide those who communicate messages to
audiences through contemporary media. He hoped that
ethical codes could guide agents of media in making
available, with conscious effort, the best content for the
common good. As for audiences, Pope John Paul II‘s
texts revealed that he considered them as passive
recipients whose minds were tabula rasa, shaped by the
content of agents‘ messages, or engaged by media
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
agents
9
.
The theoretical stance of Pope John Paul II‘s social
communications drew on teachings of Vatican II
regarding the three munera of the Church: prophetic,
priestly, and kingly functions (see Lumen Gentium of
Vatican II, 31, 35). For example, his Splendor Veritatis
built on topics in Lumen Gentium 1, 12, 16, 25, 36,
which explained the Church‘s mission of proclaiming
the Gospel. His Ecclesia in America referred to Lumen
Gentium 2, 10, 11, 26, 23, 29, 31, 34, and 50. His
Redemptoris Missio cited Lumen Gentium 1, 4, 5, 6-9,
13, 14-17, 23, 28, 31, 35, 38, and 48. With these
backgrounds, Pope John Paul II developed systematic
reflections for social communications in which he
considered all Catholics as agents to provide the Gospel
to the world through modern media, as a continuation
of the prophetic (teaching), priestly (consecrating), and
kingly (governing) roles of Christ.
Pope John Paul II believed that the most efficient and
effective way for the Church to continue this universal
mission in contemporary times was to use modern
media. The recurrent themes in Vatican II texts that he
included in his media models were the universal
mission, proclamation of the Gospel, agents of
evangelization, media polemics, teachers of the faith,
and the hierarchical status of the Church. Pope John
Paul II‘s views about the Church‘s three roles in
evangelization led to Kappeler‘s mistaken conclusion
that ―during the 1980s and 1990s, the dazzling media
and communication teaching of John Paul II were used
solely for the purpose of securing the administrative or
the kingly office of the Vatican […] The closed model
assumed that communication is one-way, downward‖
9
See Gauntlett (2007; 2005); Chomsky (2002); and Barker and
Petley (2001).
(2009: 201). Although John Paul II discussed the
hierarchical structure inherent in the governing office
of the Church, his communication model incorporated a
broader theoretical spectrum of Vatican II documents.
John Paul II contributed to the scope of social
communications and models of media effects. Kappeler
described Pope John Paul II‘s media views as
―reflective thought‖ within the Catholic Church at the
end of the 20th century. He added that Pope John Paul
II ―probed the dramatic changes which took place in
the sphere of information and communication during
the late twentieth century. [He] viewed the Church as a
mass medium able to gather enormous flocks and thus
create a mass hearing for face-to-face communication‖
(2009: 111).
John Paul II built his understanding of media effects on
the two- step flow model of communication and
teachings of Vatican II. From my critical analysis, I
noticed that John Paul II explained such effects in
terms of a two-way flow of communication, but he
provided solutions to overcoming unintended media
effects, based on the use theory of communication. His
reflections and suggestions often stressed how the
Church and its members could use modern media to
carry out information and interaction with others (see
Davenport, LaRose and Straubhaar, 2010; Baran and
Davis 2009; Busselle and Bilandzic, 2009). His
reflections contributed to broadening the theoretical
horizons and communication models in the Church‘s
social communications.
Conclusion
In this article, I have analyzed John Paul II‘s views
about the adverse effects of media on Catholic
evangelization throughout the world by examining the
content of selected texts from his writings. I noted that
Int. j. sci. footpr. Anyidoho, P. (2016)
John Paul II held that various stakeholders (e.g.,
journalists, social institutions, politico-economic
systems, and ideological groups) created media content
to influence their audiences. This research is focused
on two aspects of John Paul II‘s works on social
communications: problems he associated with media
effects on the Church‘s evangelization mission and his
contributions to social communications during the post-
Vatican II era of the Church.
I organized this analysis into four main topics:
secularization throughout the world, the power of new
communication instruments, globalization of
communication, and diminished visibility of the
Church in the 21stcentury. According to McGregor,
Pope John Paul II ―saw the Church faced with new
challenges in the form of secularism, atheism, and
religious indifference, [and] the separation of faith and
culture‖ and proposed new methods for evangelizing
through the use of modern media (2010: 79-80). This
analysis was centered on the content of John Paul II‘s
writings (1991, 1993, 1999, 2002, and 2005), in which
he systematically discussed media‘s effects on
evangelization. Four problems associated with these
effects and proposed solutions for overcoming them
according to Pope John Paul II‘s social communication
models were examined in this study, along with John
Paul II‘s contributions to the Church‘s understanding of
how modern media actually works.
To conclude, it was evident from my research that the
thoughts of Pope John Paul II on social
communications related to the themes of his
pontificate, including evangelizing through modern
media. Pope John Paul II viewed the Church as an
agent sent by Christ to continue his mission of forming
and informing audiences throughout the world. He
believed that Catholic agents of evangelization should
use modern media to support the Church‘s mission, and
he acknowledged that agents outside of the religious
sphere were competing and contradicting that mission.
This situation led him to develop measures to promote
social communications as part of the Church‘s
continuing mission. Barbey (2010) argued that Pope
John Paul II‘s ideas about social communications
confirmed the Catholic Church‘s position regarding the
power and influence of media. John Paul II would have
set the tone for dialogues within the domains of
scholarly media and communication studies if he had
referred to the works of a few relevant authors (like
Davenport, LaRose and Straubhaar, 2010; Baran and
Davis, 2009; Busselle and Bilandzic, 2009) whose
discussions included media effects, media
consumption, communication models, media
institutions, and media contents. Pope John Paul II‘s
thoughts about modern media were limited to
missiology, theology, and ecclesiology of the Catholic
Church. In summary, experts who were consulted for
this research agreed that the 27-year pontificate of John
Paul II marked an important broadening of the
understanding of social communications in the Catholic
Church.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Chapter
There has been considerable debate as to whether the Internet predominantly prevents or promotes suicide. With recent unfettered growth and the broad-reaching popularity of this technology, the study of the role of the Internet in suicide prevention and promotion is assuming greater relevance. This topic defies systematic study and subsequently the debate over its role in suicide will undoubtedly persist. Further, efforts to address concerns about the potential of the Internet to promote suicide face several barriers and challenge freedom of expression. Internet content may indeed assist in suicide prevention efforts or influence the expression of suicidal behaviors in vulnerable individuals. Those treating such vulnerable individuals should be wary of potential risk and assume appropriate monitoring strategies. Those interested in preventing suicide should consider utilizing this valuable resource. Despite the aforementioned inherent limitations to research, further study is warranted on this important topic for which debate is likely to persist.
Article
How do you picture identity? What happens when you ask individuals to make visual representations of their own identities, influences, and relationships? Drawing upon an array of disciplines from neuroscience to philosophy, and art to social theory, David Gauntlett explores the ways in which researchers can embrace people's everyday creativity in order to understand social experience. Seeking an alternative to traditional interviews and focus groups, he outlines studies in which people have been asked to make visual things - such as video, collage, and drawing - and then interpret them. This leads to an innovative project in which Gauntlett asked people to build metaphorical models of their identities in Lego. This creative reflective method provides insights into how individuals present themselves, understand their own life story, and connect with the social world. Creative Explorations is a lively and original discussion of identities, media influences, and creativity, which will be of interest to both students and academics.