The appeal letter was co-written by three journalists from the Netherlands, where Brandsma was born, and a journalist from Belgium. It was co-signed by more than 60 Vatican correspondents.
“Titus Brandsma has meant a lot to the Catholic community in the Low Countries, but his journalistic works stand out among all his other activities. He was editor-in-chief of a newspaper, devoted himself to the modernization and professionalization of the Catholic daily press in the Netherlands, and strove for better working conditions and the establishment of professional training for journalists,” the letter says.
“Father Brandsma did his work in the context of the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe. In word and deed, he opposed the language of hatred and division that was becoming common at the time. In his view, what we now describe as ‘fake news’ was not to be tolerated in the Catholic press; he successfully argued for an episcopal ban on the printing of National Socialist propaganda in Catholic newspapers.”
The letter acknowledges that the Catholic Church already has a patron saint of journalists: St. Francis de Sales.
Pope Pius XI proclaimed the bishop of Geneva the patron saint of journalists and writers in 1923. The 16th-century saint used his gifts as a writer to pen the devotional classic, “Introduction to the Devout Life,” as well as letters, sermons, and documents addressing controversies and Calvinism.
The letter argues that the French saint was “undoubtedly a holy man of faith and of great merit, but he was not a journalist in the modern sense of the word.”
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