Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Power of Movies & Old Pastoral Priorities

Vigilanti Cura
Encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on June 29, 1936.

 The Essential Purpose of Art:
 Agreement, Then Broken:
 Legion and Pledge:
 Prediction by Critics:
 National Power:
 Cultural Influence of Cinema
 Mental and Spiritual Influence of Cinema
 Potential- Bad motion pictures:
 Potential- Good motion pictures:
 Actors and Actresses:
 Bishops Duties:
 Holding Industry to Account:

The Essential Purpose of Art:

• To assist in the perfection of the moral personality

• It is, in fact, urgently necessary to make provision that in this field also the progress of the arts, of the sciences, and of human technique and industry, since they are all true gifts of God, may be ordained to His glory and to the salvation of souls and may be made to serve in a practical way to promote the extension of the Kingdom of God upon earth. Thus, as the Church bids us pray, we may all profit by them but in such a manner as not to lose the goods eternal

• Now then, it is a certainty which can readily be verified that the more marvelous the progress of the motion picture art and industry, the more pernicious and deadly has it shown itself to morality and to religion and even to the very decencies of human society.

Agreement, Then Broken:

• The directors of the industry in the United States recognized this fact themselves when they confessed that the responsibility before the people and the world was their very own. In an agreement entered into by common accord in March, 1930, and solemnly sealed, signed, and published in the Press, they formally pledged themselves to safeguard for the future the moral welfare of the patrons of the cinema.

• It is promised in this agreement that no film which lowers the moral standard of the spectators, which casts discredit upon natural or human law or arouses sympathy for their violation, will be produced.

• Nevertheless, in spite of this wise and spontaneously taken decision, those responsible showed themselves incapable of carrying it into effect.

Legion and Pledge:

• In this crisis, you, Venerable Brethren, were among the first to study the means of safeguarding the souls entrusted to your care, and you launched the "Legion of Decency" as a crusade for public morality designed to revitalize the ideals of natural and Christian rectitude.

• Millions of American Catholics signed the pledge of the "Legion of Decency" binding themselves not to attend any motion picture which was offensive to Catholic moral principles or proper standards of living.

• Crime and vice are portrayed less frequently; sin is no longer so openly approved and acclaimed; false ideals of life are no longer presented in so flagrant a manner to the impressionable minds of youth.

Prediction by Critics:

• Although in certain quarters it was predicted that the artistic values of the motion picture would be seriously impaired by the reform insisted upon by the "Legion of Decency," it appears that quite the…it was said that your efforts would be of short duration and that the effects would not be lasting because, as the vigilance of Bishops and faithful gradually diminished, the producers would be free to return again to their former methods.

National Power:

• A people who, in time of repose, give themselves to diversions which violate decency, honor, or morality, to recreations which, especially to the young, constitute occasions of sin, are in grave danger of losing their greatness and even their national power.

Cultural Influence of Cinema:

• It admits of no discussion that the motion picture has achieved these last years a position of universal importance among modern means of diversion.

• At the same time, there does not exist today a means of influencing the masses more potent than the cinema. The reason for this is to be sought for in the very nature of the pictures projected upon the screen, in the popularity of motion picture plays, and in the circumstances which accompany them.

Mental and Spiritual Influence of Cinema:

• That it speaks by means of vivid and concrete imagery which the mind takes in with enjoyment and without fatigue.

• Even the crudest and most primitive minds which have neither the capacity nor the desire to make the efforts necessary for abstraction or deductive reasoning are captivated by the cinema.

• In place of the effort which reading or listening demands, there is the continued pleasure of a succession of concrete and, so to speak, living pictures.

• [And] the motion picture is viewed by people who are seated in a dark theatre and whose faculties, mental, physical, and often spiritual, are relaxed.

• One does not need to go far in search of these theatres: they are close to the home, to the church, and to the school and they thus bring the cinema into the very centre of popular life.

• This power is still greater in the talking picture for the reason that interpretation becomes even easier and the charm of music is added to the action of the drama.

• The cinema speaks not to individuals but to multitudes,

• For good or for evil, teaches the majority of men more effectively than abstract reasoning

• It must be elevated to conformity with the aims of a Christian conscience and saved from depraving and demoralizing effects.

Potential- Bad motion pictures:

• They are occasions of sin

• They seduce young people along the ways of evil by glorifying the passions

• They show life under a false light; they cloud ideals

• They destroy pure love, respect for marriage, affection for the family

• They are capable also of creating prejudices among individuals and misunderstandings among nations, among social classes, among entire races

• It is unfortunate that, in the present state of affairs, this influence is frequently exerted for evil. So much so that when one thinks of the havoc wrought in the souls of youth and of childhood, of the loss of innocence so often suffered in the motion picture theatres, there comes to mind the terrible condemnation pronounced by Our Lord upon the corrupters of little ones: "whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones who believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea".

Potential- Good motion pictures:

• Exercising a profoundly moral influence upon those who see them.

• In addition to affording recreation, they are able to arouse noble ideals of life,

• To communicate valuable conceptions, to impart a better knowledge of the history and the beauties of the Fatherland and of other countries,

• To present truth and virtue under attractive forms,

• To create, or at least to favor understanding among nations, social classes, and races

• To champion the cause of justice, to give new life to the claims of virtue

• To contribute positively to the genesis of a just social order in the world.

• Thus at the very age when the moral sense is being formed and when the notions and sentiments of justice and rectitude, of duty and obligation and of ideals of life are being developed, the motion picture with its direct propaganda assumes a position of commanding influence.

Actors and Actresses:

• Moreover, stories and actions are presented, through the cinema, by men and women whose natural gifts are increased by training and embellished by every known art, in a manner which may possibly become an additional source of corruption, especially to the young.

Duty of Bishops:

• Watch and to labor to the end that the motion picture be no longer a school of corruption but that it be transformed into an effectual instrument for the education and the elevation of mankind.

• Venerable Brethren, should have exercised a special watchfulness over the motion picture

• It is equally the duty of the Bishops of the entire Catholic world to unite in vigilance over this universal and potent form of entertainment and instruction, to the end that they may be able to place a ban on bad motion pictures because they are an offence to the moral and religious sentiments and because they are in opposition to the Christian spirit and to its ethical principles. There must be no weariness in combating whatever contributes to the lessening of the people's sense of decency and of honor.

• This is an obligation which binds not only the Bishops but also the faithful

• Pastors of souls must exercise their vigilance over films wherever they may be produced and offered to Christian peoples.

Holding Industry to Account:

• An unceasing and universal vigilance must, on the contrary, convince the producers that the "Legion of Decency" has not been started as a crusade of short duration, soon to be neglected and forgotten, but that the Bishops of the United States are determined, at all times and at all costs, to safeguard the recreation of the people whatever form that recreation may take.

• Venerable Brethren, to address an appeal to those Catholics who hold important positions in this industry. Let them take serious thought of their duties and of the responsibility which they have as children of the Church

• Bishops will do well to recall to the motion picture industry that, amid the.

• The motion picture should not be simply a means of diversion, a light relaxation to occupy an idle hour; with its magnificent power, it can and must be a bearer of light and a positive guide to what is good.