From a Pastoral Letter of His Eminence Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, written when Bishop of Southwark. Quinquagesima Sunday, 1901.
...Every age has its own difficulties and dangers. At the present day we are exposed to temptations which at the beginning of the last century were of comparatively small account. It will be so always. Every new development of human activity, every invention of human ingenuity, is meant by God to serve to His honour, and to the good of His creatures. We must accept them all gratefully as the results of the intelligence which He has been pleased to bestow upon us. At the same time the experience of every age teaches us that the weakness and perversity of many wrest to evil purposes these gifts, which in the Divine intention should serve only for good. It is against the perverted use of two of God’s gifts that we would very earnestly warn you to-day.
During the last century the power that men have of conveying their thoughts to others has been multiplied incredibly by the facility of the printed word. Thoughts uttered in speech or sermon were given but to a few hundreds who came within the reach of the human voice. Even when they were communicated to manuscript they came to the knowledge of very few. What a complete change has now been wrought. In the shortest space of time men’s ideas are conveyed all over the world, and they may become at once a power for good or for evil in every place, and millions who have never seen or heard him whose thoughts they read, are brought to some extent under his influence.
Again, at the present day all men read, more or less. The number of those who are unable to do so is rapidly diminishing, and a man who cannot read will soon be practically unknown. As a matter of fact men read a great deal, and they are very largely influenced by what they read.
Thus the multiplicity of printed matter, and the widespread power of reading have created a situation fraught with immense possibilities for good, but no less exposed to distinct occasions of evil and of sin. It is to such occasions of sin, dear children in Jesus Christ, that we desire to direct your attention this Lent.