Forget Political Correctness, Journalists Are Urged

Archbishop John Foley Addresses Conference in Switzerland

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FRIBOURG, Switzerland, SEPT. 17, 2001 ( Young journalists attending an international congress were urged to forgo personal prejudice and political correctness and have «an unwavering dedication to truth.»

Archbishop John P. Foley, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, gave that advice when he opened the World Congress of Catholic Journalists today. He opened with a prayer for the victims of last week´s attacks in the United States.

He then proceeded to give three pieces of advice to the close to 1,000 young journalists present, from over 100 countries.

«I would ask, first, that you have an unwavering dedication to truth — not to ideology, not to personal prejudice, not to political correctness or social conformity, but to truth,» Archbishop Foley said.

«You will be called upon every day to report facts, and the old adage of journalism is: ´Get it first, but first get it right,´» said the archbishop, himself a one-time student of journalism.

«A word spoken, a word printed, a word or an image telecast cannot be recalled,» he cautioned. «If that word is wrong, you may have done incalculable damage to the reputation of a person or even to the common good.»

His second piece dealt with charity. «We are not in need of those who arouse angry or hate-filled emotions,» he said. «We are in need, now more than ever, of instruments of peace.»

In the third place, the archbishop appealed to the journalists to be men and women of hope.

«Be journalists who always seek to contribute to the building of a better society,» he urged. «Seek out the signs and the people of hope in society, and make them better known, so that others can know of, and emulate, good example and be inspired by good ideas.»

The theme of the congress, which continues through Sunday, is «The Means of Communication in Face of the Challenge of Globalization.»

The International Catholic Press Union organized the congress. Afterward, the ICPU World Congress will be held and the new president will be elected.

Swiss immigration officials refused to allow visas for would-be delegates from Nigeria, Sudan, the Congo and Colombia, despite the congress´s pleas.

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