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Inter Mirifica is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Media of Social Communications. It was approved by a vote of 1,960 to 164 of the bishops assembled, and promulgated on December 4, 1963 by Pope Paul VI. The title, taken from the first line of the document (as is customary with significant Catholic documents), is Latin for "Among the Wonderful".
The numbers given correspond to the section numbers within the text.
- Introduction (1-2)
- On the Teaching of the Church (3-12)
- On the Pastoral Activity of the Church (13-22)
- Appendices (23-24)
“It is the duty of pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family.”
Inter Mirifica insists that the Pastor should guide the members of the church so that they can help spread the good truth and further help the common good of the people of the world. “It is however, especially necessary that all parties concerned should adopt for themselves a proper moral outlook on the use of these media, especially with respect to certain questions that have been vigorously aired in our day…This means that in both the search for news and in reporting it, there must be a full respect for the laws of morality and for the legitimate rights and dignity of the individual.”
It emphasizes that it is very important for the people of the world and especially the members of the church to uphold a certain amount of integrity and responsibility. They must recognize that in both the viewing of news and in the distributing of news, you have to be knowledgeable in the topic. As a reporter, you have the responsibility of telling the truth about the topic, and making sure the topic is appropriate to be reported to the masses. As a viewer, you have the responsibility of making sure that the article or report is a credible source, and furthermore making sure the report gives a good moral outlook on the topic.
Church policy on media
Inter Mirifica is thought to have overturned a previous Church position that was critical of the liberty of the press, a position that is found in the 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos, which condemned press freedom because of the likelihood that some media content could be "poisonous" to the public.
However, it is also possible that this position has not yet been completely overturned, since it was re-asserted in December 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, who accused the mass media of producing "poison" that makes people less sensitive to violence.
The term social communications, apart from its more general use, has become the preferred term within documents of the Catholic Church for reference to media or mass media. It has the advantage, as a term, of wider connotation - all communication is social but not all communication is "mass". In effect, though, the two terms are used synonymously.
World Social Communication Day was created by the Second Vatican Council to provide an annual message for the church to its people and the rest of the world. Pope John Paul II vigorously promoted responsibility and positive goals in Social Communication not only in person but through messages given on this religious festival and through supporting the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.
The document Communio et Progressio was later written in 1971 as an update to Inter Mirifica. A further document, Aetatis Novae, was published in 1992. In 2005, John Paul II wrote his final apostolic letter, The Rapid Development, on the topic of social communications.