Pontiff Warns of Truth-Falsehood Mix-Up

Encourages Catholic Press to Follow Truth

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- In our world of communication technology, says Benedict XVI, the truth can become interchangeable with falsehood; reality can be confused with what’s merely «virtual.»

The Pope made this observation today when he received in audience participants from the four-day World Press Congress organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The group of some 230 Catholic journalists gathered in Rome from 85 nations, and they have been considering the challenges and future of the Catholic press, particularly in light of the changing media world.

The Holy Father’s talk today aimed at offering «a word of encouragement» and helping the journalists to continue with «renewed motivations.»
He looked at two particular elements in the field of Catholic journalism: the written word itself, and its timeliness and efficacy, within the new mode of communication characteristic of a globalized world. And, the second point, the specific responsibility of being a Catholic journalist, with the «daily commitment to follow the masterful way of truth.»

The Pontiff reflected that the role of the journalist himself is changing in a world where, for example, images have taken on a greater weight in communication.

Though there are positive aspects to such a development, Benedict XVI said, he also cautioned that the image can «become independent of reality; it can give life to a virtual world, with several consequences, the first of which is the risk of indifference to truth.»

«In fact,» the Pope said, «the new technologies, together with the progress they entail, can make the true and the false interchangeable; they can induce one to confuse the real with the virtual. Moreover, the recording of an event, joyful or sad, can be consumed as a spectacle and not as an occasion for reflection. The search for the paths of an authentic promotion of man then takes second place, because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions. These aspects sound like an alarm bell: They invite consideration of the danger that the virtual draws away from reality and does not stimulate the search for the true, for the truth.»

Servants of the word

The Bishop of Rome reflected, however, that Catholic journalists have a particular strength in that «the Christian faith has in common with communication a fundamental structure: the fact that the means and the message coincide.»

So the Incarnate Word, the Pope explained, is «at the same time message of salvation and means through which salvation is realized.»

And this concept, he affirmed, is accessible to anyone. Moreover, the Pontiff continued, the Church is a «place of communion» and a «sign and instrument of everyone’s vocation to communion.»

In this light, he suggested, the «Catholic press evokes more directly, as compared to other means of communication, the value of the written word. The Word of God has come to men and has been given to us also through a book, the Bible. The word continues to be the fundamental instrument and, in a certain sense, the constitutive instrument of communication: It is used today under various forms, and in the so-called civilization of the image it also keeps its entire value.»

Servants of the truth

Benedict XVI acknowledged that in the midst of such change and development, the «communicative challenge» both for the Church itself and those who share its mission is difficult.

«Christians cannot ignore the crisis of faith that has come to society, or simply trust that the patrimony of the values transmitted in the course of past centuries can continue inspiring and shaping the future of the human family,» he asserted. «The idea of living ‘as if God didn’t exist’ has shown itself to be deadly: The world needs, rather, to live ‘as if God existed,’ even if it does not have the strength to believe; otherwise it will only produce an ‘inhuman humanism.'»

Hence, the Pope urged Catholic journalists to be well-rooted in a decision to always keep God at the top of the scale of values.

«The times we are living through — despite having a notable positive weight, because the threads of history are in God’s hands and his eternal design is ever more revealed — are also marked by many shadows,» he said. «Your task, dear members of the Catholic press, is to help contemporary man to orient himself to Christ, only Savior, and to keep burning the flame of hope in the world, to live worthily our today and to build the future appropriately.»

The Holy Father exhorted the journalists to «constantly renew your personal choice for Christ, drinking from those spiritual resources that the worldly mentality underestimates, despite the fact they are valuable, more than that, indispensable.»

And in this effort, he assured them of his prayers and blessing, imparted to «all of you here present and all those who work in the Catholic press worldwide.»
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30576?l=english

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