By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Teaching young people to make good use of the new means of communication is the responsibility of parents, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli said this Friday in a video message he sent to the VI World Meeting of Families, which ended today in Mexico City. The theme of the five-day event was “The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Virtues.”
In the message broadcast by Catholic.net TV, the archbishop spoke “one of the most serious challenges that families and the whole Church faces in this moment — finding themselves in an environment shaped by the means of communication — is the formation of new generations in human and Christian values.”
He noted the prevalence and impact of the media, which he said has become “the air we breathe,” and warned that the “messages of the media, which are many and in every type of format, are often contradictory, and it is not unusual for them to diverge from the values that we want to live in the family.”
The archbishop asked: “Must this be a reason for fear or rejection of the moment in which we find ourselves living? Must we believers remain outsiders in regard to the culture of our time, depriving it of our active participation and our message?”
Archbishop Celli answered that it doesn’t have to be this way: “The family and the ecclesial community must be the place where meaning is created, in which we learn to filter, to decide, to choose what is seen and heard. The family and the community are an occasion for dialogue between the Church and the world.”
Citing Benedict XVI, the prelate pointed out that: “Together with the transmission of the faith and love of the Lord, one of the most important tasks of the family is that of forming free and responsible persons.
“Educating children so that they make good use of communications media is the responsibility of parents, the Church and schools, so that they be able to express serene and objective judgments that then guide them in the choice or rejection of programs.”
It is for this reason, the archbishop stressed, that “for years the Church has promoted formation for the critical perception of the media, also called edu-communication.”
For example, continued Archbishop Celli, “good films, chosen according to the age of the children, are a perfect means of deepening values and developing criteria in children.”
He said these films can be “of benefit to the whole family, so that there is not just one group that engages the media but [all] are active participants and missionaries of the Word in the digital culture.”
The prelate continued: “This is why it is necessary not to leave children by themselves, but to be with them so that they use new means of communication, such as cell phones, video games and computers, which are spreading in a surprising way, with moderation, creativity and ability.
“They are protagonists in this new field and can do much good for their friends if they share with them the life of faith. How important it is that society support families so that these new media promote a culture of respect, dialogue, friendship!”
“May our Lady of Guadalupe, communicator par excellence,” Archbishop Celli continued, “protect and guide families and all of society so that it be ever more harmonious, peaceful and just.”