Religion Important to Information Society, Says Vatican

Archbishop Foley Attends Moscow Conference on Mass Media

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MOSCOW, MARCH 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The absence of religion would be an irreparable loss to the information society, a Vatican official told religious and government leaders in Russia.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, spoke Thursday in Moscow at a conference on “Religion and Church in the Information Society.”

“The information society itself would be greatly impoverished without the presence of religion and indeed the Church,” he said.

“Religion is an essential part of human life, and the neglect or even denial of religion in the communications media is a neglect or denial of part of human nature itself,” the archbishop said.

“As believers, we are convinced that our destiny is in eternal life with God. While those in the communications media cannot all necessarily be expected to share that belief, they should at least recognize, respect and report it,” he said.

“Recognize: Religion and the Church exist and indeed are an important part of personal and social reality; we have already seen that the denial of the existence of religion and Church or the attempt to do away with them does violence to the truth and to the nature of the human person and to the organization of human society,” said the Vatican official.

“Respect: While some in the media may disagree with some decisions of the Church or some aspects of religion, that disagreement should be respectful of the sincerity of belief of adherents to the Church and to religion and indeed should be respectful of the institutions themselves,” he added.

”Report: Since religion and the Church form such an important part of the lives of so many persons and of society itself, the activities of religion and the Church should be reported accurately and fairly,” the archbishop insisted. “Those who report on religious activities — even if they are not themselves believers — should also be adequately informed about religion so that they might be able to make intelligent reports.”

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, secretary for relations between the Moscow patriarchate and society, represented Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow at the conference.

Archpriest Chaplin said that the “secular media outlets ostentatiously avoid balanced coverage of religious views and outlooks,” reported the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti.

“Newsmen and their bosses are deliberately reducing the amount of positive information about religion,” added the Orthodox representative.

“They are paying ever greater attention to the ‘folksy’ interpretation of religion, which concerns not basic spiritual values but interior decoration, diet, and singing and dancing,” he said.

Thus, a majority of media outlets are referring to Lent as a mere part of the everyday routine to focus attention on Lenten dishes and related folk customs, said the archpriest.

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