On World Communications Day

Media Can “Spread Peace or Foment Violence”

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Regina Caeli with thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today is celebrated in many countries, among them Italy, the solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension to heaven. This feast invites the Christian community to look to the one who, 40 days after his resurrection, to the astonishment of the apostles, “was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). We are called, therefore, to renew our faith in Jesus, only true anchor of salvation for all men. When ascending to Heaven, he reopened the way to our final homeland, which is paradise. Now, with the power of his Spirit, he sustains us in our daily pilgrimage on earth.

Today, World Communications Day is being observed, on the theme “The Media at the Service of Understanding among Peoples.” In the present age of the image, the media effectively constitute extraordinary resources to promote the solidarity and understanding of the human family. We have had proof of this recently on the occasion of the death and solemn funeral rites of my beloved predecessor, John Paul II. However, it all depends on the way they are used. These important instruments of communication can favor reciprocal knowledge and dialogue or, on the contrary, fuel prejudice and contempt among individuals and peoples; they can contribute to spread peace or to foment violence. For this reason, people must always be reminded of their responsibilities; it is necessary that all do what corresponds to them to ensure objectivity, respect for human dignity and attention to the common good in all forms of communication. In this way a contribution is made to bring down the walls of hostility that still divide humanity and to consolidate bonds of friendship and love which are signs of the kingdom of God in history.

Let us return to the Christian mystery of the Ascension. After the Lord ascended to heaven, the disciples were gathered in prayer in the Cenacle, with the mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14), invoking together the Holy Spirit, who would invest them with power to witness to the risen Christ (cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). United to the Most Holy Virgin, every Christian community relives in these days this singular experience in preparation for the solemnity of Pentecost. We also now turn to Mary with the singing of the Regina Caeli, imploring her protection on the Church, in particular on those dedicated to the work of evangelization through the means of social communication.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the prayer, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet with affection all the English-speaking visitors present today, including groups from Denmark and the Netherlands. May the peace and joy of Christ our risen lord be with you.

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