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The Media and the Clash of Ignorances

Interview With Bishop Renato Boccardo

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2005 (Zenit) - The media can help the world avoid the predicted clash of civilizations, says a Vatican official.

Such a clash would be more of a "clash of ignorances," contends Bishop Renato Boccardo, until now the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. John Paul II today appointed the 52-year-old prelate to be secretary-general of Vatican City State.

In this interview before the announcement of his new appointment, Bishop Boccardo talked about his experience on the social communications council, and about the Pope's message for the 2005 World Communications Day.

Q: Are the present wars communicative conflicts that later turn into armed conflicts?

Bishop Boccardo: With the present facility of communications and considering how communications can influence the feelings of a people or different populations, one can say that this is the risk. For this reason, the Pope warns about the power of communication today.

Q: Are the means of communication the educators of the information society?

Bishop Boccardo: In his message, the Pope says that education is necessary to use the media well. In fact, he says that the use of the media favors understanding, collaboration, respect of differences, mutual acceptance. Therefore, the media becomes an instrument at the service of peace, at the service of the development of human society.

The Pope gives as an example the mobilization of the world after the tsunami tragedy, stating that a campaign of solidarity was launched worldwide as had never before been seen. Thanks to the means of communication, and to their capacity to transmit images from one place to another in the world.

Q: If this is the reality, the responsibility of communicators is much greater than it seems.

Bishop Boccardo: The Pope says, when speaking about the building of peace, that the human person and the community are the end and measure of the media.

Therefore, communicators must apply in their own lives those values and behavior that they are called to teach others.

The communicator is not only one who practices his work, but someone who "lives" his work. As communicator, he transmits a view and, therefore, he becomes a witness. He must be the witness of values that are good for society.

Q: Who do you think is the best example of a communicator?

Bishop Boccardo: In his message, the Pope proposes Christ, the Word made flesh. God who goes out to meet humanity and assumes it.

The Word of God, when becoming flesh, established a new pact between God and humanity. This way of communicating of Christ becomes a message and model for communication. This can also be applied to today's reality, in the quest for peace in a world strewed with conflicts.

Q: In fact, more than a clash of civilizations, should we not speak of a clash of ignorances?

Bishop Boccardo: The Pope has reminded us many times that, when we do not know one another, we are afraid of the other. We see this at the ecumenical level, among Christians; at the level of different cultures, between Christianity and the other religions.

We do not know one another, we live from ignorance, prejudices, I would dare to say hatred, fueled over centuries and centuries.

The media increases contacts and can allow for mutual knowledge. In the measure that we know one another, we realize that the other is not necessarily a threat, but that his difference can constitute a richness.

Q: What does "to conquer evil with good" mean for the Christian communicator?

Bishop Boccardo: It is an invitation to great inner freedom, not to allow oneself to be carried away by the mechanism of sensationalism.

We are extremely sensitive to what hits us, to what stirs our sensibility, often morbid. To conquer evil with good means to conquer the slavery of the audience, of sharing, to present the good.

And we see that, when values are communicated, when news is reported with this positive spirit, there is also a response on the part of readers, of spectators.


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Media, Apostolic, Letter, Pope, Holy See, Development, Boccardo

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