Governments Exhorted to Provide Media Education

Archbishop John Foley Addresses Conference in Ukraine

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KIEV, Ukraine, MARCH 21, 2005 ( The Holy See appealed to European governments not to overlook the importance of the media in the education of children as well as of the general public.

The spokesman for the Church’s position at the 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy, held here March 10-11, was Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

«We were disappointed to note,» said Archbishop Foley in his address to the assembly, «that there is in the draft Action Plan no mention of media education — for children or for the general public.»

The Holy See representative did acknowledge, however, that the document expressed the «commendable concern for protection for minors against harmful content in traditional and new electronic media, while securing freedom of expression and the free flow of information.»

The archbishop explained that the Vatican delegation applauded a passage of the draft resolution that calls «for particular care on behalf of content producers and disseminators, notably in order not to harm human dignity and the rights of individuals, especially minors.»

He also supported the document’s emphasis «on media education for the general public and for children, enabling young people to benefit from the positive aspects of the new communications services and avoid exposure to harmful contents.»

«While noting that all rights carry with them corresponding responsibilities, we wish to emphasize that — for the development and maintenance of mutual trust and confidence — all communication should be based on truth: ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,'» he added.

Archbishop Foley highlighted John Paul II’s latest apostolic letter «The Rapid Development,» which states, «The mass media can and must promote justice and solidarity according to an organic and correct vision of human development, by reporting events accurately and truthfully, analyzing situations and problems completely, and providing a forum for different opinions.»

The papal letter adds: «An authentically ethical approach to using the powerful communication media must be situated within the context of a mature exercise of freedom and responsibility, founded upon the supreme criteria of truth and justice.»

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