On the feast of the Immaculate Conception yesterday, the Holy Father had some stern words on the role of the mass media in our everyday lives in this information age:
“Every day, in the newspapers, television and radio, evil is told to us, said again, amplified, so that we get used to the most horrible things and become desensitized,” Pope Benedict XVI said at the Spanish Steps in Rome. “In a certain way, it poisons us, because the negative is never fully cleansed out of our system but accumulates day after day. The heart hardens, and thoughts become gloomy. For this reason, the city needs Mary, whose presence speaks of God, reminds us of grace’s victory over sin, and makes us hope even in the humanly most difficult situations.”
The Pope also spoke about the sensationalism of mass-media news and the undignified way the individuals involved are often treated: “They make it to the front page of newspapers or the top of TV newscast — they are exploited until the end, for as long as the news and the images are newsworthy. Few can resist such a perverse mechanism. The city first hides, then exposes them to public scrutiny, without pity or with false pity. Everyone would like to be accepted as a person and considered as something sacred, because each human story is a sacred story that deserves the utmost of respect.”
Later on in his address, he said: “Dear brothers and sisters, we are the city! Each one of us contributes with our lives to its moral climate, for better or worse. The border between good and evil runs across everyone’s heart, and none of us should feel entitled to judge others. Instead, each one of us must feel duty-bound to improve ourselves. Mass media make us feel like ‘spectators,’ as if evil only touched others and that certain things could not happen to us. Instead, we are all ‘actors,’ for better or worse, and our behavior influences others.”
The full translation of his address can be found on Asia News Asia News.
Despite their relevance, don’t expect much coverage of his words in the mass media.