On January 24, 2008, feast day of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists, the Holy See presented the Pope's Message for the 42nd World Day of Social Communications. Here are important excerpts:
"The media, taken overall, are not only vehicles for spreading ideas: they can and should also be instruments at the service of a world of greater justice and solidarity. Unfortunately, though, they risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day. This is what happens when communication is used for ideological purposes or for the aggressive advertising of consumer products. While claiming to represent reality, it can tend to legitimise or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life. Moreover, in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, it does not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence, and to overstep the mark.
"Humanity today is at a crossroads.... We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate'self-promotion'or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences... Their extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and on society is widely acknowledged, yet today it is necessary to stress the radical shift, one might even say the complete change of role, that they are currently undergoing. Today, communication seems increasingly to claim not simply to represent reality, but to determine it, owing to the power and the force of suggestion that it possesses. It is clear, for example, that in certain situations the media are used not for the proper purpose of disseminating information, but to'create'events.
"It is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity. Many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life.
« The media must avoid becoming spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, true scourges of our time. Instead, they can and must contribute to making known the truth about humanity, and defending it against those who tend to deny or destroy it."