Friday 7 September 2018

A New Medium and the Catholic Message: The Archdiocese on the Small Screen

September 6th and 8th, 1952 were big days for Canadians: CBC Television began broadcasting in Montreal and Toronto. Though some who lived close to the border had been watching American stations since the 1940s, this was the first time we had real networks of our own. Its popularity quickly exploded: by 1965, television sets were in 92% of households.

While Bishop of London, Cardinal Carter appeared on the Windsor television show Grey Scale.

March 11, 1977

PH 18G/01P
ARCAT Photograph Collection

Catholic leaders recognized the value of the medium for reaching out. In his 1957 encyclical letter Miranda Prorsus, Pope Pius XII called the development of television "an event of great importance in human history," and wrote,
"It is well known to Us with what deep interest vast numbers of spectators gaze at television programmes of Catholic events. It is obvious, of course, - as We declared a few years ago - that to be present at Mass portrayed by Television is not the same as being actually present at the Divine Sacrifice, as is of obligation on holy days. However, from religious ceremonies, as seen on Television, valuable fruits for the strengthening of the Faith and the renewal of fervour can be obtained by all those who, for some reason, are unable to be actually present; consequently, We are convinced that We may wholeheartedly commend programmes of this kind."

The television networks also recognized the value of providing religious programming. There are lots of examples in the archives of stations writing to the Bishops about their plans, including the following from CBC:

"Your Excellency:

"The first program for Christmas Day this year on your local CBC-TV station will be live coverage of the Midnight Mass from St. Basil's Seminary Chapel, Toronto. 

"The service, celebrated by Reverend Eugene R. Malley, will commence at 12:01 a.m. on Christmas Day and will include prayers and Christmas carols sung by the Basilian Seminarian choir directed by Reverend George Vander Zanden.

"The gospel and certain prayers of the Mass will be illustrated by paintings and drawings appropriate to the theme.

"Perhaps you would like to inform your parish priests about this program.

Dillwyn Hatton
Information Services"

December 14, 1961

PO CM01.03a
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

"Canadians at Worship

"As the Fall returns and the pace of life quickens, our MEETING PLACE returns too, with worship from churches and synagogues across Canada.

"The response we receive from viewers has been tremendously encouraging. Some tell of the pleasure they receive from particular hymns, prayers, sermons. Others say they pick up new ideas for their own church, from watching others.

"We don't intend MEETING PLACE as a substitute for worship in a community. But for instance, I know of an elderly couple who cannot get out to church. Once a week, they put on their Sunday best - she chooses her Sunday hat - and they go down to the living room to be part of MEETING PLACE. 

"We try to make MEETING PLACE as complete an experience as possible. I hope it succeeds as well for you.

"Donald Henderson
CBC Television"


PO CM01.88
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

In the 1970s, the Archdiocese of Toronto helped to fund The Church Today, which aired on Global, CHCH, and CFTO, was hosted by Fr. Martin Foley, C.Ss.R, and focussed on issues of importance to Catholics. Archbishop Pocock established a Governing Board for Radio and Television which produced various TV spots on topics such as Family Life and Racism.
"Start your weekend with The Church Today"


The Church Today Fonds

In 1987, the Archdiocese started The Sunday Mass for a Television Community, bringing mass into the homes of those who couldn't get to a church. The program ran until this year when it was taken over by the Daily TV Mass, which is produced by the National Catholic Broadcasting Council.

The Sunday Mass for a Television Community


ARCAT Artwork Collection

The Archbishops of Toronto have had to become experts in being in front of the camera. The archdiocesan Office of Public Relations and Communications provides ongoing training for the bishops, priests, and lay staff so that they can be comfortable and communicate the Catholic message clearly.

Cardinal Carter filming an interview with CTV's Sandie Rinaldo.

June 15, 1992

PH 31C/1398CP
ARCAT Photograph Collection

Cardinal Ambrozic on the Bruce Trail with a crew filming the documentary God's Dominion: In the Name of the Father.

May, 1992

PH 31C/1192CP
ARCAT Photograph Collection

Cardinal Collins speaks to news crews at St. Michael's Cathedral on the day of Pope Benedict XVI's retirement.

February 11, 2013

Courtesy of the Office of Public Relations and Communications

Today, Catholics can enjoy lots of quality Catholic programming on their own networks such as Salt + Light, The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), and others. There is also lots to watch on the Archdiocesan YouTube Channel!

Here's a bonus video of Cardinal Carter in front of the camera posted by St. Michael's College School:

No comments:

Post a Comment