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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mass media must uplift not debase family life, love, Benedict states

Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Today's media industries should show "edifying models" not "debased or false expressions" of family life and human love, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In his first message for World Communications Day, the pope called on communicators to help "uphold and support marriage and family life" because the union of a man and a woman in marriage represents the foundation of all cultures and communities.

The pope's message on the theme "The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation" was released at the Vatican Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists. World Communications Day will be marked in most dioceses this year May 28, the Sunday before Pentecost.

The pope said workers in the mass media must strive for accuracy, thoroughness and "fair representation of diverse points of view" in their work, but "of particular importance" is the need to promote and protect the sanctity of marriage and the family, he said.

While not mentioning issues such as infidelity, divorce, sexual activity outside marriage, or homosexual unions, the pope said "how disheartening and destructive it is to us all" when the media presents negative role models, especially to young people.

"Do not our hearts cry out, most especially, when our young people are subjected to debased or false expressions of love which ridicule the God-given dignity of every human person and undermine family interests?" the pope asked in his written message.

Communicators and the entertainment industry should work with parents and "assist in the difficult but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting edifying models of human life and love," he said.

The pope cautioned against presenting information to the public in such a way that it became homogenized and muffled creativity, oversimplified complex ideas or glossed over cultural or religious diversity.

There were "certain tendencies within the media," he said, that breed "a kind of monoculture that dims creative genius, deflates the subtlety of complex thought and undervalues the specificity of cultural practices and the particularity of religious beliefs," he said.

"These are distortions that occur when the media industry becomes self-serving or solely profit-driven, losing the sense of accountability to the common good," the pope said.

He called on today's media "to be responsible -- to be the protagonist of truth and promoter of the peace that ensues."

Authentic communication requires courage and resolve based on ethical and moral principles, Pope Benedict said. Communicators must not "wilt under the weight of so much information nor even ... be content with partial or provisional truths."

By bringing information, news or entertainment to the public, media workers should seek to contribute "to the propagation of all that is good and true" and help foster more cooperation and communion in society.

  • Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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