.- This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group of 1,200 journalists and technicians from the communications media group run by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI). The Holy Father lamented an attempt by many in Europe to erase ties to Christianity and encouraged the journalists to be steadfast in their work.
"Dear friends," said the Pope, "yours is a truly important function. Indeed, it is also thanks to your efforts that the commitment of Italian Catholics to bring the Gospel of Christ to the lives of nations can continue."
"In order to understand the overall significance of the work to which you dedicate yourselves every day," the Pope said, "it may prove useful to reflect briefly upon the relationship between faith and culture" in Europe. "European culture ... was formed over centuries with the contribution of Christianity. However, since the Enlightenment western culture has been distancing itself from its Christian foundations." And, "especially in recent times, ... the reduction of faith to a subjective experience and the consequent secularization of public conscience show us, clearly and dramatically, the consequences of this separation."
On a positive note, however the Pope said that there is a renewal of faith in many parts of Euope. "In particular," he said, "the Catholic faith is still substantially present in the life of the Italian people and the signs of its renewed vitality are visible to all.”
"Therefore," he added, "constant discernment is necessary in your work as communicators inspired by the Gospel. As you well know, the pastors of the Italian Church are careful to conserve those Christian forms that come from the great traditions of the Italian people and that shape community life, updating them, purifying them where necessary and, above all, reinforcing and encouraging them. It is also your duty to sustain and promote the new Christian experiences that are coming into being, helping them to develop an ever greater awareness of their ecclesial roots and of the role they can play."
Benedict XVI described the work of the communicators as "a task not to be undertaken in an abstract or purely intellectual manner, but remaining attentive to the infinite details of the real life of a people."
"Do not tire," he concluded, "of building bridges of understanding and communication between ecclesiastical experience and public opinion. Thus you will be protagonists of a form of communication ... that serves modern mankind."