VATICAN CITY, January 29, 2004 ( – In his message for the May 23 World Communications Day, which was released last week, Pope John Paul II warned that the media “have the capacity to do grave harm to families.” The Pope said the theme chosen for the Day is “The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness” invites, “sober reflection on the use which families make of the media and, in turn, on the way that families and family concerns are treated by the media.”  The Pope reminded both media communicators and consumers that “all communication has a moral dimension.  He stated that media has the “power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family.”  It has “the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality,” he said.  “The stakes are high, since every attack on the fundamental value of the family is an attack on the true good of humanity.”  Explaining both the good and the bad of media, the Pope said:  “On the one hand, marriage and family life are frequently depicted in a sensitive manner, realistic but also sympathetic, that celebrates virtues like love, fidelity, forgiveness, and generous self-giving for others. This is true also of media presentations which recognize the failures and disappointments inevitably experienced by married couples and families – tensions, conflicts, setbacks, evil choices and hurtful deeds – yet at the same time make an effort to separate right from wrong, to distinguish true love from its counterfeits, and to show the irreplaceable importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society.  “On the other hand, the family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society.”  The Pope stressed, “Parents also need to regulate the use of media in the home. This would include planning and scheduling media use, strictly limiting the time children devote to media, making entertainment a family experience, putting some media entirely off limits and periodically excluding all of them for the sake of other family activities. Above all, parents should give good example to children by their own thoughtful and selective use of media.”  Finally he encouraged families to be “outspoken in telling producers, advertisers, and public authorities what they like and dislike.”  See the full address on media:


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