Media Council Comments on Papal Message
"Enter Into the World of the Media with Courage"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the commentary published by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications regarding Benedict XVI's message for the 41st World Communications Day on the theme "Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education." The day will be observed May 20.
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"Like education in general, media education requires formation in the exercise of freedom. This is a demanding task. ... True freedom could never condemn the individual -- especially a child -- to an insatiable quest for novelty. In the light of truth, authentic freedom is experienced as a definitive response to God's 'yes' to humanity, calling us to choose, not indiscriminately but deliberately, all that is good, true and beautiful. Parents, then, as the guardians of that freedom, while gradually giving their children greater freedom, introduce them to the profound joy of life"
In his message Benedict XVI focuses on education in general and how proper formation can help children learn to be truly free. He looks at how knowledge of how to exercise their own freedom in the social context in which they find themselves can help them develop a profound joy of life. This ideal presents a great challenge, but so too does understanding the powerful influence of media messages. For this reason, the Holy Father appeals to Church members, families and schools to provide an effective education in the use of the media.
It is important to note that Benedict XVI calls on us to enter into the world of the media with courage and to choose that which is best for us and the new generations. It is not a call to escape from the media reality in which we find ourselves.
The Holy Father reminds us that children need to be accompanied as much as possible as they interact with the media and where the risk of sometimes confusing reality with fiction exists. Ideally, parents, teachers and parish communities should become knowledgeable of the languages and techniques used by the media in order to be better selective of what they offer, to assist children in discernment and in making better choices. General criteria based on principles such as beauty, goodness and truth can offer good guidelines in selecting programming, content or even videogames.
A primary goal is also to avoid instances where children can be directed toward themes or situations which impoverish or deceive them under the guise of freedom, or where a relentless desire for novelty is created which, in the long run, will never be satisfied or bring about real happiness. The ideal is that children can learn how to choose what is best for themselves, helping them to grow in goodness and joy: "Beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness have a depressing impact on attitudes and behavior." Beauty, a "mirror of the divine" can help direct and inspire a responsible use of freedom.
The message also consists of an appeal to leaders in the media industry to respect human dignity. With awareness of the often intense commercial pressures facing those who work in this field, the message nevertheless encourages producers: "to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family."
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