MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II
To Dr Emilio Rossi
1. At the end of the initiative Children and the media: 100 meeting points, promoted by the Catholic Union of the Italian Press of which you are President, I would like to greet you and all the participants, and express my great appreciation for all that your association does.
The many conferences on the topic of "Children and the Media" that are being held in many Italian cities using the variety of media for the presentations have helped to give the agents and users of the media a better idea of the widespread impact of the media's presence in society. Such a massive presence raises new problems and presents a real challenge for families, educators, operators and all who have at heart the future of the young generations.
Television often becomes the main formative agent for children, impressing on them unhealthy values and information that influence their development negatively, especially when they spend a great deal of time in front of the screen which virtually takes the place of their parents. While everyone seems to agree that all forms of exploitation of minors by the media should be banned, it should be recognized that few special programmes are actually designed for them. It is therefore urgent to produce programmes which take into account the sensitivity and educational needs of children and respect the pedagogical dynamics and ethical values.
Paying attention to children in the context of the media turns out to be one of the important proofs of a great civilization and its progress. It is an exalted work to which all must contribute in accord with their specialized role and skills. This work is part of that social pedagogy through which we can shape the new generations and help them to express all the good that lies hidden in their hearts, without harming it or making it dry up.
From this point of view, the new media such as the Internet and the multimedia technology have an extraordinary potential: they are more widespread and interactive, and demand additional skills and call for the exercise of responsibility on the part of the organisms that are deputed to look after the common good. With the coming of these new media we find ourselves at a "decisive gateway", as I recalled in my
Message for the 36th World Communications Day to be celebrated next 12th of May, dedicated to the theme: The Internet: a New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel. We must "cross this threshold bravely" with both discernment and initiative, if we want to guarantee to future generations an environment that is safe from manipulation and abuse.
As I thank the representatives of the Catholic Union of the Italian Press for what they are doing, I encourage them to continue to involve more people in promoting a new, richer social and cultural season that will give life to a constructive and careful relationship between the media and children. May Jesus' special love for children (cf. Mk 10,13-16), whom he showed to be an example of how to enter his Kingdom (cf. Mt 18,3-4), be an example and an incentive to each one to encourage communications that are appropriate for men and women, attentive to the common good and especially to the good of children.
May the Virgin Mary be close with motherly care to all who are involved in such an important mission that has a huge impact on the formation of young people. As I assure you of my prayers for each of you, I cordially impart my Blessing to you.
From the Vatican, 18 April 2002.
JOHN PAUL II