ROME — Pope Francis told members of the Catholic Press Association Tuesday that the media should build bridges, defend life, and help people, especially the young, “to distinguish good from evil.”
In their reporting, journalists should help people “to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home,” the pope told them.
The pope sent his message to participants in a virtual Catholic media conference sponsored by the Catholic Press Association and began by expressing his closeness “to those who have been affected by the virus and to those who, even at the risk of their lives, have worked and continue to work in assisting our brothers and sisters in need.”
The experience of the pandemic “has shown how essential is the mission of the communications media for bringing people together, shortening distances, providing necessary information, and opening minds and hearts to truth,” Francis said.
The communications media are called “to inform and to unite,” the pontiff said. “E pluribus unum – the ideal of unity amid diversity, reflected in the motto of the United States, must also inspire the service you offer to the common good.”
“How urgently is this needed today, in an age marked by conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune,” he continued. “We need media capable of building bridges, defending life and breaking down the walls, visible and invisible, that prevent sincere dialogue and truthful communication between individuals and communities.”
“We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home,” he said.
The pope also said that journalists should be men and women of conviction who “protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes.”
Communication is not only a matter of professional competence, he said. “A true communicator dedicates himself or herself completely to the welfare of the others, at every level, from the life of each individual to the life of the entire human family.”
With a nod to recent protests in the United States, the pope said everyone must work “to overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference that disfigure the face of our common family.”
“Where the world sees conflicts and divisions, may you look to the suffering and the poor, and give voice to the plea of our brothers and sisters in need of mercy and understanding,” he said.
The pope ended his message by assuring Catholic journalists of his support and prayers, while urging them to remain “united in faith and resistant to fleeting cultural fads that lack the fragrance of evangelical truth.”