Bishops Appeal for Education in Use of New Media

Criticize Language of E.U. Commission on Subject

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ROME, APR. 13, 2001 ( European bishops are urging institutions to be committed to greater education in the use of new information technologies.

«The distinction between advertising, entertainment and information has often become blurred,» the bishops of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) said in a statement, «and the globalization of the media has made it increasingly difficult to monitor, let alone control, content and distribution.»

«We bear a special responsibility for children and young people,» the bishops say, «not only to protect them from the exploitative methods of communication or from content that is harmful to their development, but also to enable them to use the media — especially the new media — constructively for the common good of society.»

The Swedish government has pledged that, during its presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers in the first half of 2001, «the situation of children and young people in the new media landscape will be highlighted.»

The bishops welcomed that initiative. But they objected to the language used by the European Union Commission in a report published Feb. 27 on the implementation of measures by member states to protect minors in the use of the information technologies.

The E.U. commission concluded that «the consumers have not been sufficiently involved in the introduction of codes of conduct.»

The bishops say it is not a question of «consumers,» but of «citizens,» who must be helped, especially with «education.» Unfortunately, the bishops said, «both the recommendation and the report seem to pay only superficial attention to it.»

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