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 CNS Story:

POPE-MEDIA Apr-26-2010 (470 words) xxxi

New media need more Christian witnesses, pope tells communicators

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholic communication workers to give witness to their beliefs and to help infuse new media outlets with "a soul."

"More than through technical resources, although necessary, we want to confirm ourselves living in this (digital) universe, too, with a believing heart so that it may contribute to giving a soul to the Internet's endless flow of communication," he said April 24.

The pope made his comments during an audience with participants of a national congress on digital media organized by the Italian bishops' conference. The congress, which ran April 22-24, was titled, "Digital Witnesses. Faces and Languages in the Cross-media Era."

During the congress, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told participants that truth, transparency and credibility were paramount in communications.

"Secrecy and confidentiality, even given their positive aspects, are not values that are cultivated by today's culture. It is necessary to be able to have nothing to hide," Father Lombardi said in his address to the congress April 24.

Today is "above all a time of truth, transparency, and credibility," he said.

The times "that we are experiencing, the price we are paying, all indicate that our witness must be decisively in line with rigor, consistency with what we say and what we are, and the refusal of every hypocrisy and duplicity," he said.

Father Lombardi urged Catholic communications workers to "bring the joy of truth and loyalty" to the world, and to be "credible witnesses of what we say and do."

In his audience address to participants later the same day, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of new media reflecting the full human person. When too much focus is on the superficial, people can seem like "soulless bodies -- objects of exchange and consumption," he said.

The digital divide, which further separates the haves and the have-nots, still needs to be bridged, he said.

Some of the risks the Internet still present are the problems of "conformity and control, and intellectual and moral relativism -- already quite evident in a waning critical spirit, in the truth being reduced to a play of opinions, and in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of a person's innermost being," he said.

Communicators can help humanize the mass media by upholding those universal values that promote the common good and the dignity of the human person, he said.

"Without fear we want to set sail for the digital sea, facing the open waters with the same passion that has governed the ship of the church for two thousand years," he said.

Pope Benedict asked that media workers never tire of filling their hearts with "that healthy passion for mankind," which in turn can find sustenance in a solid preparation in theology, "a deep and joyous passion for God," and prayer.


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