Vatican Preparing "Ethics in Internet" Document

Council for Social Communications Holding Plenary Assembly

The Power of Cyberevangelism: The Holy Bible Web Site - on the screen of a public Internet/ telephone box at London Liverpool Street Station, London, UKVATICAN CITY, MAR. 12, 2001 ( Participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications are working this week to prepare a document on "Ethics in Internet."

Archbishop John P. Foley, council president, told Vatican Radio that Internet, like other means of communication, raises ethical concerns. The current initiative is part of a series of documents published by this pontifical council, which began with "Ethics in Advertising" (1997), and was followed by "Ethics in Communications" (2000).

During the meeting, which began today and will end Friday, the participants also will analyze the media's role in the celebration of the Jubilee Year. Moreover, Archbishop Foley explained that the meeting offers the opportunity to study the way in which the media can respond to John Paul II's call in "Novo Millennio Ineunte," to look ahead.

"We must enter all the means of social communication to evangelize in two ways: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in and through the media," Archbishop Foley said. "We must also think of our own media, as well as of a program for the formation of persons, within the media in general, to obtain a more comprehensive view of human life and its end -- not the consumerist view, spread throughout the world today, but [one] inspired by the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."


Internet Needs Ethics, John Paul II Says

Encourages Social Communications Document

VATICAN CITY, MAR. 16, 2001 ( John Paul II expressed his support today for the project of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to write a document on "Ethics in Internet."

The first proposals for the writing of this text were among the key issues discussed at the council's plenary assembly, held this past week, and presided over by U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley.

This document, which follows "Ethics in Social Communications" (2000) and "Ethics in Advertising (1997), "would indeed by very timely, given the rapid spread of cyber-communications and the many moral questions involved," the Pope said.

"The Church cannot be a mere spectator of the social results of technological advances, which have such decisive effects on people's lives," the Holy Father added. "Your reflection on 'Ethics in Internet,' therefore, can be of great help to the Church's pastors and faithful in facing the many challenges of the emerging media culture."

He continued: "The problems and opportunities created by new technology, by the process of globalization, by deregulation and privatization of the media present new ethical and indeed spiritual challenges to those who work in social communications. These challenges will be met effectively by those who accept that serving the human person, building up a community grounded in solidarity, justice and love, and speaking the truth about human life and its final fulfillment in God were, are, and will remain at the heart of ethics in the media."

During his meeting with some 70 members and consultors of the pontifical council, John Paul II addressed another topic that the participants studied: the importance of the media in transmitting the message of the Jubilee Year.

This council assisted the television channels that transmitted the principal events of the Holy Year, and offered pastoral consultation to the thousands of journalists and photographers who covered the event. This council also was responsible for organizing the Jubilee celebrations for journalists in June and for entertainers in December.

"Your commitment is undoubtedly sustained by the desire to make the Jubilee Year a genuine response to the Gospel injunction to bring 'good news to the poor, liberty to captives, and new sight to the blind,'" the Pope added.

He expressed his gratitude to the Knights of Columbus, whose donations make possible the television transmission by satellite of events in the Pope's life, used by hundreds of television channels worldwide.


Still Surfing for an Internet Patron Saint

VATICAN CITY, MAR. 16, 2001 ( search for a patron saint for the Internet is continuing, and the candidates now include two martyrs of the Nazi death camps.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, a communicator in the press, radio and audio-visual materials, and Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite and Dutch journalist, were among the candidates discussed this week during the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Other names included St. Paul and St. Isidore of Seville (died 636), who was renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge.

The Church is also looking for a patron saint for the cinema. Bishop Pierfranco Pastore, secretary of the communications council, told Vatican Radio about the proposals made to date.

"Together with the already existing patrons of radio [St. Gabriel], television [St. Clare], and the press [St. Francis of Sales]," he said, "we have received grass-roots requests, so to speak, for a patron for Internet, the cinema and the media in general."

Bishop Pastore said that the petitions come "from the dioceses and local Churches, to which we give due attention. Before giving a list of names to the Pope's Secretariat of State, we decided to hear the opinion of consultor members of our council."

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