One of the country’s most senior Churchmen has warned that elements of mainstream media “managed” to deprive people of the ability to think critically about faith and society.
Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary warned that: “Forces are endeavouring to reshape our values, fears and dreams in ways that are quite literally opposed to the joy of the Gospel”.
“It has become standard today to adopt and embrace a form of ‘groupthink’ which allows some to believe they can determine our outlook and reactions to various situations and realities, and not least, our attitude to religion and matters of faith and morals,” the archbishop said during a homily at the vigil Mass ahead of ‘Reek Sunday’ in Westport.
He criticised what he described as a tendency in the media to concentrate on what divides people rather than what brings people together.
“In a competitive world the media will tend to focus on the dramatic or even sensational as extreme positions vie with each other. Consensus and collaboration are frequently overlooked. This has an impact on the way in which religion is presented. Of its very nature, religion is intended to bind people together and to God, rather than to divide and conquer.
“Religion as a counter-cultural force has today become marginalised,” he warned. “It is not uncommon to find the coverage of religion per se and religious affairs generally viewed through a political prism and treated in political terms.
“The great organs of news and information in society are, it seems, being managed to serve distorted and sometimes questionable ends, which are calculated to deprive us of our critical faculties,” the archbishop said.
While he said that criticism of the Church is healthy and has a place, he also warned that: “it is convenient to be dismissive of the Church and faith in a rather uninformed and prejudicial manner.
“For people to whom faith is important and who have a great love for and appreciation of the Church – in spite of its shortcomings – this is a very challenging time.
“In a society enslaved by the tyranny of ‘relevance’, the truth of the Gospel can easily be dismissed because it is too challenging to hear, or, because it is perceived to be unsuitable in an open, modern and progressive society,” he said.