Is Advertising at Service of Human Dignity?

Archbishop Foley Stresses the Benefits of Ethical Communication

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MONTE CARLO, Monaco, DEC. 13, 2002 ( Communication and advertising should not be mere instruments of orientation and persuasion, but must have an ethical base for the spread of morally correct messages, says a Vatican official.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, expressed this conviction at the Monaco World Summit here on «Corporate Responsibility, Dignity and Human Rights.»

In recent years, the pontifical council has published documents on ethics in advertising, communications and Internet.

These documents have stressed the «three principles of ethics in all types of communication: truth, the dignity of the human person and the common good,» Archbishop Foley said Tuesday.

«The dignity of the human person can be enhanced or harmed by advertising and indeed by all means of communication,» he said.

«How often have we seen advertisements which treat individuals — especially women — as objects, very often sex objects?» he asked. «How often have we perceived that advertising seeks not a positive contribution to an individual’s well-being but a greater contribution to the bottom line? Individuals come to be viewed as numbers to be delivered, not as human beings to be served.»

«The human person and the human community are the end and the measure of the use of the communications media; communication should be by persons to persons for the integral development of persons,» the archbishop added.

Integral development «requires attention to the ‘inner dimension,’ a dimension which is at least moral if not religious and spiritual,» he said.

«Individuals have irreducible dignity and importance, and they may never be sacrificed to collective interests,» Archbishop Foley stressed.

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