Media Need "Clear and Just" Rules to Ensure Freedom, Says John Paul II

Warns of Absence of Control

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2002 ( John Paul II asked the media to adopt «clear and just» rules of conduct to guarantee pluralism and freedom, and to keep them from becoming instruments of society’s strongest.

The Pope made his appeal Saturday when he closed a congress on culture in the communications age, organized by the Italian bishops’ conference. It was the largest event organized by the Church in Italy this year.

«Those who work in the media and create culture, believers and nonbelievers, must have a clear awareness of their own responsibilities, especially before the most vulnerable, who are frequently exposed, without any defense, to programs full of violence and distorted views of man, the family and life,» the Holy Father said.

«In particular, public authorities and associations for the protection of spectators, are called to work, according to their competencies and responsibilities, so that the media maintain their objective of service to individuals and societies,» he added.

«The absence of control and vigilance,» the Pope warned, «is no guarantee of freedom, as many would like us to believe, but rather ends by fostering the indiscriminate use of very powerful instruments that, if badly employed, have devastating effects on the consciences of individuals and on life.»

«In an ever more complex system of communications of global extension, clear and just rules are necessary that guarantee pluralism, freedom, participation and the respect of users,» the Holy Father continued.

Addressing the thousands of people gathered in Paul VI Hall, many of whom were media professionals, the Pope said that the Church sees their work «with confidence and expectation.»

«As protagonists of the changes under way in these realms in a horizon of growing globalization, you are called to read and interpret the present time and to find ways to communicate the Gospel according to the language and sensibility of contemporary man,» John Paul II exhorted.

«However,» he asked, «what culture can generate communication that does not place at the center human dignity, the capacity to help and to address the important questions of human life, the commitment to serve the common good with honesty, and attention to the problems of coexistence in justice and peace?»

«Laborers are needed in this field who, with the genius of faith, will be interpreters of present cultural entities, committing themselves to live in this era of communication, not as a time of alienation and error, but as a precious time for the pursuit of truth and for the development of communion between individuals and peoples,» the Holy Father responded.

Though this goal is high, John Paul II urged that lay Christians in particular not to be discouraged. They will be able to achieve the goal if the motor of their life is «Jesus of Nazareth, the Word incarnate, who carried out the most important communication in the history of humanity,» he concluded.

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