Pope Benedict XVI issued a call today for ‘info-ethics’ to be developed for the media as part of his annual message for the World Day of Social Communications. The Pope wrote that “it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity.”
At the Holy See’s press office this morning, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, presented the Pope's Message for the 42nd World Day of Social Communications.
Noting how the communications media "can be instruments of our hope", Archbishop Celli stressed that "they can and must also be instruments at the service a more just and united world.”
"It is no coincidence", he added, "that the Pope mentions, though briefly, the 'decisive' role the media have had and continue to have". The Holy Father also recalls those sectors of human life in which the media "are a real resource, a blessing for everyone: literacy, socialization, the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples", he added.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications dwelt on "the Pope's clear awareness and knowledge of the fact that unfortunately the media 'risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day'. This is the challenge facing the media, the challenge we must all face in our daily lives in order to become men and women who show solidarity to all mankind".
In his message Benedict XVI raises the fact that "the media can be used to 'create' events", Archbishop Celli observed before going on to ask: "If the media, rather than recounting events, 'create' them what happens to mankind?"
With the media being able to, in a sense, shape people’s view of reality, there is a chance that “essential dimensions of the human person and the truth concerning the human person” could be neglected by their reporting.
Given this new phenomenon, Pope Benedict suggests that "many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life".
These words of the Pope, the archbishop concluded, "make us even more aware of how much the social communications media are profoundly linked to mankind, and invite us to protect human beings jealously in all their environments and in everything that mankind is and is called to be".
Msgr. Tighe in his comments encouraged those who work in the media "to be vigilant in their efforts to make known the truth and to defend it 'against those who tend to deny or destroy it'. Media professionals are invited to defend the ethical underpinnings of their profession and to ensure that the 'centrality and the inviolable dignity of the human person' are always vindicated".
Finally, Msgr. Tighe recalled the numerous journalists throughout the world who "have suffered persecution, imprisonment and even death because of this commitment and because of their unwillingness to be silent in the face of injustice and corruption".
The Pope’s message can be found here.