Authentic Christians and excellent journalists
From 1 to 4 June the Jubilee of Journalists was celebrated in
Rome with 7,000 media professionals and their family members from
every continent of the globe. On 1 June they visited the Sistine
Chapel for a time of personal prayer and reflection. On 2 June they
attended a morning conference on "Truth and Witness", and
in the afternoon a videoconference was held in the Paul VI Hall and
broadcast live to Washington, Mexico City, Manila and Johannesburg.
On 3 June the journalists attended a prayer service at St
Paul-Outside-the-Walls, led by Cardinal Edward I.Cassidy and
representatives of the World Council of Churches.
On Sunday morning, 4 June, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray celebrated
Mass for the media professionals in the Paul VI Hall, and afterwards
they were addressed by Pope John Paul II. Here is a translation of
the Holy Father's address, which was given in Italian and followed
by greetings in various languages.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this year of the Great Jubilee, the Church is celebrating the
event of the Incarnation, proclaimed by the Evangelist John in these
words: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn
1:14). A truly great mystery, a mystery of Salvation, which
culminates in the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
The world's destiny is contained in this event. From it, through
the gift and power of the Holy Spirit, flows redemption for the
people of every time and place. In the light of this mystery, I
affectionately greet all of you who have gathered here to celebrate the
Jubilee of Journalists.
In particular, I greet Archbishop John P. Foley, President of the
Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Mrs Theresa
Ee-Chooi, President of the International Catholic Union of the
Press, and thank them for their kind words expressing the sentiments
of everyone here.
I was keen to have this meeting with you, dear journalists, not
only for the joy of joining you on your Jubilee journey, as I am
doing with many other groups, but also out of the desire to pay a
personal debt of gratitude to the countless professional journalists
who have done all they can to make known the words and events of my
ministry throughout the years of my Pontificate. I am deeply
grateful for all this effort and for the objectivity and courtesy
which have marked the great part of this service, and I ask the Lord
to give each of them a fitting reward.
Open the doors to Christ In your professional life
2. In the world of journalism this is a time of profound changes.
The proliferation of new technologies is affecting every area by now
and, to a greater or lesser degree, involves every human being.
Globalization has increased the powers of the media, but has also
made them more liable to ideological and commercial pressures. This
should prompt you journalists to ask yourselves about the meaning of
your vocation as committed Christian's in the world of
This is the crucial question that must characterize your Jubilee
celebration on this World Day of Social Communications. Your passing
through the Holy Door as pilgrims expresses a choice of life and
says that you would like "to open doors to Christ" in your
profession as well. He is the "Gospel", the "Good
News". He is the model for everyone who, like you, is striving
to make the light of truth penetrate every area of human life.
3. This encounter with Christ has been the aim of the programme
you have followed in these days. On Thursday you prayed in the
Sistine Chapel, where the splendour of art set before your eyes the
drama of human history, from Creation to the Last Judgement. On this
great journey of humanity, we also see the truth about the human
person created in the image of God and destined to eternal
communion with him; we see the truth which is the basis of all
ethics and which you are called to observe in your profession.
Yesterday you were at St Paul's tomb and today you have come to
pray at St Peter's. They were the great "communicators" of
faith at the dawn of Christianity. May their memory remind you of
the specific vocation which distinguishes you as followers of Christ
in the world of social communications: you are called to devote your
professionalism to the service of the moral and spiritual good of
individuals and of the human community.
4. This is the crux of the ethical question, which is inseparable
from your work. Journalism, with its immense and direct influence on
public opinion, cannot be guided by economic forces, profit and
partisan interests alone. Instead, it must be regarded in a certain
sense as a "sacred" task, to be carried out with the
awareness that the powerful means of communication are entrusted to
you for the common good and, in particular, for the good of
society's weakest groups: from children to the poor, from the sick
to those who are marginalized or discriminated against.
One cannot write or broadcast only with a view to audience share,
to the prejudice of truly educational services. Nor can one make an
indiscriminate appeal to the right to information without taking
other personal rights into account. No freedom, including freedom of
expression, is absolute: it is limited, in fact, by its duty to
respect the dignity and legitimate freedom of others. Nothing,
however fascinating, can be written, produced or broadcast to the
detriment of the truth: I am thinking here not only of the truth of
the facts you report, but also of the "truth about man",
of the dignity of the human person in all his dimensions.
As a sign of the Church's desire to be close to you as you meet
this great challenge, a few days ago the Pontifical Council for
Social Communications published the document Ethics in
Communications. It is a warm invitation to journalists to commit
themselves to serving the human person by building a society based
on solidarity, justice and love, through the communication of the
truth about human life and its final fulfilment in God (cf. n. 33).
I thank the Pontifical Council for this document, which I recommend
for your study and reflection.
Keep your gaze fixed on Christ, the faithful witness
5. Dear Brothers and Sisters! The Church and the media must walk
together in their service to the human family. I therefore ask the
Lord to grant that you may leave this Jubilee celebration with the
conviction that it is possible to be both authentic Christians and
The world of the media needs men and women who strive day after
day to live this twofold dimension as best they can. This will
happen more and more, if you can keep your gaze fixed on the One who
is the centre of this Jubilee year, Jesus Christ, "the faithful
witness ... who is and who was and who is to come" (Rv 1:5,8).
As I invoke his help on each of you and on your particularly
demanding work, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and
willingly extend it to your families and to all your loved ones.
The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims and visitors in French,
English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish.
I cordially greet you, the journalists present at this Jubilee.
May you find in your pilgrimage the strength to fulfil your service
of informing and forming our contemporaries, by helping them to open
their hearts on a global scale! It must be your concern to make
yourselves witnesses to the truth, so that the human person will
always be respected. The Church is counting on you to know how to
retransmit to the world the message of hope that comes from Christ.
With my Apostolic Blessing.
I warmly greet the English-speaking participants in the Jubilee
of Journalists. May these days of pilgrimage be a time of
intense personal renewal for each one of you, and an encouragement
to you in your demanding profession. The great challenge facing you
is to use your skills and your immense influence over public opinion
in the faithful service of the truth about the human person. This
means to defend life and build a human community ever more solidly
based on solidarity, justice and love. May the joy and peace of
Christ fill your hearts! May you and your families be blessed in
I greet the Spanish-speaking media professionals who are taking
part in this Jubilee celebration today. I encourage you to continue
your work at the service of information by basing it on the truth
and fostering solidarity and understanding among all.
I extend a cordial welcome to the German-speaking journalists.
Your profession is a service to the truth. In your speaking and
writing be guided by love, especially when the truth is hard. to
bear. For this I invoke God's Holy Spirit upon you.
My cordial greeting to the Portuguese-speaking journalists and
others who work in the communications media: you can and do know how
to raise the level of solidarity in the world; today the Pope would
once again like to express his gratitude and esteem to you all for
the variety of projects you support for the victims of so many human
tragedies. May God reward you for them and bless you.
I cordially greet the Polish-speaking journalists. I hope that
you will maintain your freedom of thought and objective judgement of
reality. Be faithful to the truth! May the splendour of the truth
pervade your service to man, to the Church and to the world! I
cordially bless you.