VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2001 ( John Paul II today described the challenges faced by Signis, a Catholic media association just created by an international congress in Rome.

Signis ( has resulted from the fusion of OCIC, the international Catholic media organizations (film, video, audiovisual), and Unda (radio and television). It is present in 140 countries.

"It is my hope, and yours too, I am sure, that Signis will expand and make ever more effective the work that your two organizations have undertaken for the past 70 years, the work of evangelizing in and through the communications media, proclaiming the Lord´s saving Gospel in the world of cinema, radio, television and, most recently, Internet," the Pope said.

Some 450 Catholic communicators participated in the meeting with the Pope, which took place in the Vatican´s Clementine Hall. The communicators are in Rome to attend the world congress that created Signis. The congress opened Monday and closes Nov. 27.

A "Multimedia Forum" is scheduled Nov. 22-24 and expected to attract producers, distributors and users of educational and religious programs.

According to the Pope, the "formation of this organization at the beginning of the new millennium seems particularly appropriate. Indeed, with the great advances in communications technology and the continuing process of globalization, the Church´s mission of making Christ known and loved by all people finds itself with ever new opportunities, and ever new challenges as well."

After referring to the boom in radio and television broadcasting stations, the Pope asked Signis to "continue to create new audiences for Catholic programming and work with other involved bodies to ensure that positive religious and spiritual content is not lacking in the various media productions."

He cautioned, however, that Signis must not only produce audiovisual programs but become a conscience in the new panorama of communications.

"People spend enormous amounts of time absorbed in media consumption, particularly children and adolescents," he said. "An important part of your work, therefore, is to teach wise and responsible media use."

"This means setting high standards not for the general public alone but also for the leaders of the communications industry," the Holy Father added. "It means bringing people to a keen awareness of the great influence that the media has in their lives. It means monitoring the quality of content and promoting constructive dialogue between media producers and consumers."