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If your Children love comic books, you need to read this

‘Today, all the classics of religious literature are available to everybody in the form of paperbacks, booklets, and every sort of leaflet. So also are the accepted masterpieces of every nation, scientific works and every sort of light reading that can provide pleasant relaxation. “Comics” and illustrated stories are not to be despised. They can for instance, be used to illustrate the Sacred Scriptures and the lives of the saints. All these productions of the printing press deserve our interest and support.’ 

This is the pastoral instruction of 1971 by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Communio et Progressio. Comic books are a major type of media that fetches billions of dollars every year and has also greatly influenced the entertainment industry.

Since the release of the Superman comic in 1938, various similar comic book characters have captured both children’s and adults’ attention. All this has prompted the Catholic church to speak on it even though the Catholic Church usually stays away from specifics regarding literature and several forms of art.

Although comic books were prevalent, they were also looked upon with great suspicion that they had to be put on trial in the United States. There was even a special investigation held in 1953 to see if they led to “juvenile delinquency.” The “Comics Code Authority” was created in the United States in 1954 to review content for many decades, but it was rendered defunct in January 2011.

Catholic Comics

To show that they supported this medium, the Catholic church released a Comic called ‘the treasure chest comics’ from 1946 to 1972. It contained a collection of stories about Bible characters, saints, and others.

Marvel Comics published the biographies of St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II, and St. Teresa of Calcutta in 1980, 1982, and 1984. In recent times Catholic publishers have started recreating new Catholic comics. All these go to show the catholic church’s support for this new type of media.

St. John Paul II believes that comics do not necessarily have to preach the faith. In his Letter to Artists, he explained how art has the potential to lift our minds to God.

‘In this spirit of profound respect for beauty, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium recalled the historic friendliness of the Church towards art and, referring more specifically to sacred art, the “summit” of religious art, did not hesitate to consider artists as having “a noble ministry” when their works reflect in some way the infinite beauty of God and raise people’s minds to him.’

Warning about Comic books and superheroes

In St. John Paul II message on the 14th World Communications Day, he talked about comics;

‘Generally, [parents] pay vigilant attention to the type of friends with whom their children associate, but do not exercise a similar vigilance regarding the ideas which the radio, the television, records, papers, and comics carry into the “protected” and “safe” intimacy of their homes. And so the mass media often enter the lives of the youngest members of the family with no possibility of the necessary explanations or corrections from parents or other educators which could neutralize any harmful elements and which could equally employ the many valuable aspects to assist in the process by which children are gradually transformed into well-adjusted men and women.’

Be Vigilant

The keyword is “vigilance.” The reason is, children usually have straightforward ideas; “Heroes are good, villains are bad.” Which in practice means that anything their superheroes do register as “good” in their hearts. If the actions performed are not contrary to a virtue already rooted in them, they risk copying those actions. And if those actions are contrary to the moral code instilled by their parents, they can struggle with their conscience to reconcile this contradiction in their minds. Like how could Superman cheat on his girlfriend? The outcome of this resolution can sometimes be for good, but most times can lead to bad choices in the future.

As a parent, you need to remember that when your child sees Superman, for example, he sees someone who can do no wrong. So whatever he does, needs to conform with Catholic morality, or you will need to speak to your child about any particular incident witnessed. You could ask, “what did you think when Superman beat that man to death?”, get the child’s opinion, and gently nudge them in the right direction. What this means is that parents need to be vigilant of what their kids consume in comics and other channels of information.

When they are older, they will know that nothing is “black and white” the way they once thought. They can learn that good people have to struggle with evil and evil people also have good inside them. But until then, parents must keep them safe without pushing them away; This is a difficult but necessary task.

The Catholic Church supports comic books and superheroes but those should be rooted in the truth and positivity.

If your Children love comic books, you need to read this

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