.- The Pope made public today his message for the 39th Day of Social Communications which is due to be held on May 8, 2005, on the theme: "The Communications Media: at the service of understanding among peoples." The event will be held on the Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists.
Extracts from the message - which was published in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese - are given below:
"The theme chosen for the 2005 World Communications Day - "The Communications Media: at the service of understanding among peoples" - addresses an urgent need: to promote the unity of the human family."
"One important way of achieving this end is through education. The media can teach billions of people about other parts of the world and other cultures. ... Accurate knowledge promotes understanding, dispels prejudice, and awakens the desire to learn more. ...”
When others are portrayed in hostile terms, seeds of conflict are sown. ... Instead of building unity and understanding, the media can be used to demonize other social, ethnic and religious groups, fomenting fear and hatred.”
Those responsible for the style and content of what is communicated have a grave duty to ensure that this does not happen. Indeed, the media have enormous potential for promoting peace and building bridges between peoples."
"If such a contribution to peace-making is one of the significant ways the media can bring people together, its influence in favor of the swift mobilization of aid in response to natural disasters is another.”
It was heartening to see how quickly the international community responded to the recent tsunami that claimed countless victims."
"The Second Vatican Council reminded us: 'If the media are to be correctly employed, it is essential that all who use them know the principles of the moral order and apply them faithfully.”
“The fundamental ethical principle is this: 'The human person and the human community are the end and measure of the use of the media of social communication; communication should be by persons to persons for the integral development of persons.' In the first place, then, the communicators themselves need to put into practice in their own lives the values and attitudes they are called to instill in others.”
Above all, this must include a genuine commitment to the common good - a good that is not confined by the narrow interests of a particular group or nation but embraces the needs and interests of all."
"My prayer on this year's World Communications Day is that the men and women of the media will play their part in breaking down the dividing walls of hostility in our world, walls that separate peoples and nations from one another, feeding misunderstanding and mistrust."