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The Family Sanctuary Cannot Be Profaned
by the Television

It is good to remind Catholics - especially traditionalist Catholics - of their duties of vigilance regarding televisions in their homes.

TVs have become so common that few consider its destructive power in family life and the formation of youth. May these wise words of Pius XII awaken their Catholic sense and stop these deleterious consequences.

Pope Pius XII

The television, besides the common element that it shares with the two other technical inventions for spreading information of which we have already spoken [cinema and radio], has its own characteristics. It permits spectators to grasp by the eye and the ear simultaneously events happening far away at the very moment at which they are taking place, and thus to be drawn in, as it were, to take an active part in them, augmented by the sense of intimacy and trust proper to the family life.

This suggestive power that television has in the intimacy of the family sanctuary must be taken into great consideration, since its influence in the formation of the spiritual, intellectual and moral life of the members of the family can be incalculable - and especially on the children, who will inevitably be more fascinated by new technology.

"A little bit of leaven corrupts the whole mass" (Gal 5:9). If, in the physical life of youths, an infectious germ can impede their normal development, how much more can a permanently negative element in education compromise their spiritual equilibrium and moral development! It is well known that often a child can resist the contagion of some sickness in the street, but cannot escape it when the source of contagion is found within the home itself.

The sanctity of the family cannot be the object of compromises, and the Church cannot rest from striving with all her force - as it is her full right and duty - to keep that sanctuary from being profaned by the bad use of the television.

With its great advantage of offering easy entertainment inside the domestic walls – for both old and young – the television can help to reinforce the bonds of love and fidelity in the family, but always with the condition that the screen displays nothing to harm those same virtues of fidelity, purity and love. …

For this reason, we paternally exhort Catholics, well-qualified by their learning, sound doctrine and knowledge of the arts, and in particular the Clergy and members of Religious Orders and Congregations, to strive to dominate this new technology and give their cooperation so that television can benefit from the spiritual riches of the past and those of all authentic progress.

In addition, it is essential that producers of television programs should not only respect religious and moral principles, but also be on guard against the danger that programs intended for adults can have on the young. In other fields, as for example in the cinema and theater, in the majority of civilized countries the youth are protected by special defensive measures against immoral or inconvenient spectacles. Logically, and with even greater reason, there should be precautions taken for an alert vigilance with regard to television. …

Yet, not even the professional good will and conscientious action of those engaged in these arts are sufficient either to ensure that nothing but good flows from television screen or to ward off all that is evil. Prudent vigilance is, therefore, demanded of those who have televisions in their homes. Moderation in its use, prudence in allowing children to view programs according to their age and character formation, sound judgment about what programs should be viewed and, finally, forbidding the viewing of any inconvenient programs, thus weighs upon parents and educators as a serious duty of conscience.

We know well that the directives we have just given, especially in this last point, can create delicate and difficult situations, but the educational role of parents often demands that they give good example - not without some personal sacrifice - by renouncing some programs they would like to see. But who can think that such a sacrifice requested on the part of parents is too great when the supreme good of their children is at stake?

This being so – as we declared in a letter to the Italian Bishops – "it is necessary and urgent to form in the faithful a strong conscience regarding their Christian duties on the use of the television" so that the latter does not serve to spread error or evil, but rather becomes "an instrument of information, formation and transformation."

Encyclical Miranda Prorsus, Sôbre Cinema, Rádio e Televisão,
Petropolis: Editora Vozes Ltda, 1957, pp. 34-37, nn. 144-155.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted September 2, 2017