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Pope Francis: Catholic News Media Can’t be ‘Neutral’ in the Message They Convey

By Andrés Henríquez/CNA/ACI Prensa

Pope Francis said people working in Catholic media must not refrain from being involved in the evangelizing mission of the Church and that, therefore, “they cannot remain ‘neutral’ with respect to the message they convey.”

The pontiff made his remarks at a Jan. 4 audience with a delegation from the Society of Catholic Publicists of Germany on the 75th anniversary of its foundation.

According to Vatican News, the Holy Father also explained that “interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, and the defense of peace, freedom, and human dignity” should be the goals of communication professionals, especially if they are Catholic.

“How many conflicts today, instead of being extinguished by dialogue, are fueled by fake news or inflammatory statements in the media! That’s why it’s all the more important that you, strong in your Christian roots and in living the faith daily, ‘demilitarized’ in your heart by the Gospel, support the disarmament of language,” the pope said in his discourse, which he gave in writing to the delegation.

To achieve this “demilitarization” of language, he shared four guidelines that Catholics in the media can put into practice: “Foster a tone of peace and understanding, build bridges, be available to listen, and engage in respectful communication toward others and their reasons.”

He also noted that Catholic journalists have a fundamental role to play in situations involving tension and disputes by “providing correct information” to resolve misunderstandings and contributing to the construction of peace in society, “helping mutual understanding and not setting people in opposition to each other.”

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Pope Francis was also emphatic in asking Catholic journalists not to be turned in on themselves but to go out and “bring the Christian message to all areas of life” using the enormous resources, platforms, and communication tools available to the modern world.

“A Church concerned above all with itself becomes ill with self-referentiality,” he warned.

In that regard, the pontiff pointed to the weakest in society as the center of attention of communication professionals. In these peripheries, Pope Francis commented, is found “the God of love, waiting for the good news of our charity.” The Holy Father pointed out the need for journalists “who highlight the stories and faces of those to whom few or no one pays attention.”

Catholics in the media should “always think of the faces of the people, especially the poor and the simple, and start from them, their reality, their dramas, and their hopes, even if doing so means going against the current” and sparing no effort, he concluded.

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