A Keyhole for Unbelievers? The Public Character of Cultus and the Broadcasting of the Mass on TV

Robert Spaemann

The broadcasting of Mass on television, which is already taking place regularly in several countries,1 has—by contrast with those countries—led to a lively and fundamental discussion in West Germany. Here, the weight of arguments and Catholic public opinion has been in favor of a categorical refusal of such TV broadcasts of the Mass; this is in part because it constitutes, as a matter of principle, a profanation and is contrary to the public character of the Christian cultus, and in part because the alleged spiritual usefulness of this practice is questioned and it is instead feared that it will do greater damage in the long run. “The desire to be modern,” writes Fr. Karl Rahner, “may very soon turn out to be highly unmodern. Once the TV set has become part of the ordinary furniture of the average person, and once he is used to being the spectator of just about anything between heaven and earth on which an indiscriminately curious camera preys, then it will be an unbelievably exciting thing for the philistine of the twenty-first century that there still are things which one cannot view while sitting in a recliner and chewing on a burger.”


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