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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 January, 2004, 04:18 GMT
Pope says media damaging families
By Mike Workman

Pope John Paul II, pictured in December 2003
The Pope urged parents to supervise their children
The Pope has called on governments across the world to ensure that family life is not weakened by the growth of communications media.

He said in an age where many families had access to immense and varied media resources, parents needed to regulate how their children used it.

The Pope did not single out any particular section of the media.

But it is clear that he is concerned about the internet and the vast number of new television stations.

This would include strictly limiting the time children devote to media... putting some media entirely off limits and periodically excluding all of them for the sake of other family activities
Pope's advice to parents
In his statement issued in advance of World Communications Day on 23 May, Pope John Paul II once again emphasised traditional Catholic teaching on the family and human relationships.

He criticised those in the communications industry who were promoting values detrimental to the common good of society.

Pro-active approach

The Pope urged parents to closely supervise what their children saw and heard, and to be more critical of messages which could undermine the family.

All communication has a moral dimension... People grow or diminish in moral stature by the words which they speak and the messages which they choose to hear
Pope John Paul II
More significantly perhaps, he urged parents to be outspoken when it came to telling producers and governments what they liked and disliked.

And as for governments, he said they needed to involve what he described as family representatives in the regulation of the media, so they did not act against the good of the family.

Although the Pope made clear he was not supporting censorship, he is advocating a more pro-active approach by those who hold his conservative values.

It will almost certainly be seen as a challenge by opponents of the Catholic Church's teaching on such issues as divorce, contraception or homosexuality.

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