Don´t Fear the Media, John Paul II Says

Message for World Day of Communications

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2001 ( Although the media seem at times hostile to Christianity, John Paul II is convinced that the era of global communications offers a unique opportunity for evangelization.

In his message, released Wednesday for the upcoming World Communications Day on May 27, he appeals to the whole Church to make an «active and imaginative commitment» to working in the field of the media.

Where «once the media reported events,» the Pope observed, «now events are often shaped to meet the requirements of the media.»

He added: «The relationship between reality and the media has grown more intricate, and this is a deeply ambivalent phenomenon. On the one hand, it can blur the distinction between truth and illusion but, on the other, it can open up unprecedented opportunities for making the truth more widely accessible to many more people.»

«The task of the Church is to ensure that it is the latter that actually happens,» John Paul II affirmed.

The Bishop of Rome acknowledged that the «world of the media can sometimes seem indifferent and even hostile to Christian faith and morality.»

«This is partly because media culture is so deeply imbued with a typically postmodern sense that the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths or that, if there were, they would be inaccessible to human reason and, therefore, irrelevant,» the Pope explained. «As a result, the world of the media can sometimes seem no more friendly an environment for evangelization than the pagan world of the apostles´ day.»

Nevertheless, the Holy Father insisted, «just as the early witnesses to the Good News did not retreat when faced with opposition, neither should Christ´s followers do so today.»

The Pontiff emphasized: «Yet, as much as the world of the media may at times seem at odds with the Christian message, it also offers unique opportunities for proclaiming the saving truth of Christ to the whole human family.»

The Holy Father referred, for instance, to «satellite telecasts of religious ceremonies, which often reach a global audience.» Indeed, the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter´s Basilica on Christmas Eve 1999 drew one of the largest TV audiences in history. It is estimated that over 1 billion people watched the ceremony.

«Such a wide audience would have been beyond the wildest imaginings of those who preached the Gospel before us,» the Pope noted. «Therefore, what is needed in our time is an active and imaginative engagement of the media by the Church.»

The Holy Father concluded, «Catholics should not be afraid to throw open the doors of social communications to Christ, so that his Good News may be heard from the housetops of the world.»

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