Pope Benedict addressed members of the Catholic media at the World Press Congress in Rome yesterday, urging them to “help contemporary man to orient himself to Christ”.
The four-day conference, organised by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, had participants from 85 different countries working in Catholic newspapers, magazines, periodicals and internet sites.
He said that the Catholic media in particular had a responsibility to “be faithful in an explicit and substantial way, through the daily commitment to follow the masterful way of truth”.
The Pope said: “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.”
The Pope pointed out that in a world of technological advances, words were rapidly being replaced by images as the dominant means of communication. But he said that while “on one hand this entails undoubtedly positive aspects, on the other hand, the image can also 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”.
He lamented the fact that the recording of events using new technologies enabled them to 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,” he said.
The Pope also spoke of the “crisis of faith” in modern society and cautioned Christians against being complacent and merely hoping that traditional values will continue to shape the human family.
He said: “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’.”
The Pope urged the Catholic media not to be “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1), but instead to always place God “at the top of the scale of values”.