New Pope Has Some Advice for the Media

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(AP) Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that the media can spread peace but also foment violence, and he called on journalists to exercise responsibility to ensure objective reports that respect human dignity and the common good.

Benedict made the comments during a brief appearance at his studio window to bless thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square below, following in the beloved Sunday tradition of Pope John Paul II.

Draped underneath the window for the first time was the red tapestry bearing Benedict’s papal coat of arms, which includes traditional elements from his native Bavaria and a nod to St. Augustine.

Noting that Sunday was the world day of social communications, the pope praised the media for what he called the “extraordinary” coverage of the death and funeral of John Paul.

“But everything depends on the way it (the media) is used,” he said.

“These important tools of communication can favor reciprocal knowledge and dialogue, or on the contrary, they can fuel prejudice and disdain between individuals and peoples; they can contribute to spreading peace or fomenting violence.”

As a result, Benedict called for members of the media to exercise “personal responsibility” to ensure objective reports that respect human dignity and pay attention to the common good.

The call was similar to one Benedict issued April 23 during a meeting with journalists in his first public audience after being elected pope April 19. Then, he reminded members of the media of their “ethical responsibilities” and urged them to seek the truth and safeguard the dignity of the human person.

John Paul made similar calls during his nearly 27-year pontificate.

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