Friday, January 25, 2008

Vatican Notes Challenge for Journalists

Communication-Council Officials Present Papal Message

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2008 ( Media professionals are called to defend the human person and his dignity, affirmed officials from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The pontifical council president and secretary, respectively Archbishop Claudio Celli and Monsignor Paul Tighe, stated this today, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

They were presenting Benedict XVI's message for the 42nd World Day of Social Communications, to be celebrated May 4.

Noting how the communications media "can be instruments of our hope," Archbishop Celli stressed that "they can and must also be instruments at the service a more just and united world."

"It is no coincidence," he added, "that the Pope mentions, though briefly, the 'decisive' role the media have had and continue to have." He recalled how the Holy Father notes those sectors of human life in which the media "are a real resource, a blessing for everyone: literacy, socialization, the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples."

Archbishop Celli cited "the Pope's clear awareness and knowledge of the fact that unfortunately the media 'risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day.' This is the challenge facing the media, the challenge we must all face in our daily lives in order to become men and women who show solidarity to all mankind."

Jealous protection

Benedict XVI notes the fact that "the media can be used to 'create' events," Archbishop Celli observed before going on to ask: "If the media, rather than recounting events, 'create' them, what happens to mankind?" In this context, he noted, the Pope suggests "many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics,' just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life."

These words of the Pope, the archbishop concluded, "make us even more aware of how much the social communications media are profoundly linked to mankind, and invite us to protect human beings jealously in all their environments and in everything that mankind is and is called to be."

For his part, Monsignor Tighe, speaking English, noted how the "true measure of progress is not to be found in the technical or logistical efficiency of the new means of communications alone, but in the purposes which they serve."

The Irish monsignor, who was appointed today as a prelate of honor, said that the media can place new technologies "at the service of individuals and communities in their search for the truth, or they can allow them to be used to promote their own interests and/or the interests of those they represent in ways that manipulate communities and individuals."

This papal message, Monsignor Tighe continued, encourages those who work in the media "to be vigilant in their efforts to make known the truth and to defend it 'against those who tend to deny or destroy it.' Media professionals are invited to defend the ethical underpinnings of their profession and to ensure that the 'centrality and the inviolable dignity of the human person' are always vindicated."

Finally, he recalled the numerous journalists throughout the world who "have suffered persecution, imprisonment and even death because of this commitment and because of their unwillingness to be silent in the face of injustice and corruption."