Statement of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) New Delhi 29 February 2020
We, members of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) met at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Okhla, New Delhi on Feb. 29, 2020 for our Annual General Body Meeting. This was preceded by the 25th National Convention of Christian Journalists, which was organized under the aegis of the ICPA. The convention, since the last twenty-five years, has served as a meeting ground for journalists to discuss the context, events and trends that affect contemporary journalism. Our theme this year was ‘Journalism Today: Pragmatism Triumphs over Principles?’
During the convention, we were privileged to have excellent inputs from some of India’s well-known media experts and others; besides, given our respective professional backgrounds we also interacted with one another on some of the key issues of today.
As citizens of India, we are deeply concerned at what is happening in the country today on every possible front, be it economic, social, political or religious. We are disturbed that the poor and the marginalized, the minorities and other vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, have to bear the brunt of an unjust and dehumanizing system. Some of the recent legislation and policies (like the CAA, NPR and NRC) and some judicial pronouncements, are divisive, discriminatory and even draconian. Those who take a stand for justice and truth are often hounded and harassed; dissent is barely tolerated. Efforts are made to negate or dilute essentials elements of the Constitution: rights pertaining to freedom of speech and expression and freedom of religion are blatantly disregarded. The secular and pluralistic fabric of the country is systematically being destroyed.
In the context of the above, we the members of the ICPA, resolve
- to take a principled stand always, based on the person and message of Jesus
- to defend and promote the freedom and rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution
- to ensure that our writing is authentic :based on factualities
- to be a voice of the voiceless for a more humane and just society
- to courageously play a prophetic role and distance ourselves from ‘truthophobia’
Finally, we take inspiration from the words of Pope Francis who urged journalists, “to work according to truth and justice, so that communication is truly an instrument for building and not for destroying… Freedom of the press and of expression is an important indicator of the state of a country’s health. Let’s not forget that one of the first things dictatorships do is remove freedom of the press or mask it, not leaving it free….We need journalists who are on the side of victims, on the side of those who are persecuted, on the side of the ones excluded, cast aside, discriminated against….The Church holds you in esteem, also when you put your finger in a wound, even if the wound is in the Church community.” (Address to the IFPA, 18 May 2019)