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Posted January 31, 2007

Benedict XVI: Educate Children in Beauty

Media Day Message Focuses on Youth

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 - Benedict XVI is appealing to the media to educate children "in the ways of beauty, truth and goodness," not of violence and vulgarity.

The Holy Father's appeal is in his message for World Communications Day 2007, which will be observed May 20 with the theme "Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education." The papal message for the media day is traditionally published today, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

The message calls for reflection on two aspects: the first is "the formation of children," and the second, "perhaps less obvious but no less important, is the formation of the media."

The Pope explains: "The relationship of children, media, and education can be considered from two perspectives: the formation of children by the media; and the formation of children to respond appropriately to the media.

"A kind of reciprocity emerges which points to the responsibilities of the media as an industry and to the need for active and critical participation of readers, viewers and listeners."

The Pontiff adds: "Within this framework, training in the proper use of the media is essential for the cultural, moral and spiritual development of children.

"Educating children to be discriminating in their use of the media is a responsibility of parents, Church, and school.

"Media education should be positive. Children exposed to what is aesthetically and morally excellent are helped to develop appreciation, prudence and the skills of discernment."

Mirroring the divine

Benedict XVI's statement recognizes the importance of the example of parents and encourages them to introduce youth to "children's classic literature, to the fine arts and to uplifting music."

"Beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness has a depressing impact on attitudes and behavior," the papal message continues.

The media industry can support the education of children in the ways of beauty, truth and goodness "only to the extent that it promotes fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life, and the positive achievements and goals of humanity," the Pope says.

Benedict XVI acknowledges that communicators often face "'special psychological pressures and ethical dilemmas' . . . which at times see commercial competitiveness compelling communicators to lower standards." "Any tendency to produce programs and products -- including animated films and video games -- which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents," he says.

The Holy Father appeals in his message "to the leaders of the media industry to educate and encourage producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family."