Although the Catholic Church's observance of next year's World Communications Day is not until May 4, Pope Benedict XVI recently selected its theme. Those in the media would do well to reflect on the pontiff's message.
"The Media: At the Crossroads Between Activism and Service; Seeking the Truth in Order to Share It with Others" is the theme voiced by the pope for 2008. It is a stinging indictment of the direction in which the secular media is headed and an equally stern warning to refocus on the objectivity and fact-finding that are the essence of journalism.
Unfortunately, one not need look too far to find frightening evidence of the "dumbing down" of the journalistic product brought into homes every day in print, over the air waves or via the Internet.
Archbishop Claudio Maria Cellli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said it all in explaining next year's theme as a call "to reflect on the role of the media... especially, the increasing risk of their becoming self-absorbed and no longer tools of the service of truth-something which is meant to be sought and shared."
It is ironic that with prolific, online technology and skewed priorities producing an information overload, too many people are more aware of what is happening in the silly entertainment industry than the real issues facing their nation.
A return to the mission and responsibility of journalism is what Pope Benedict feels is desperately needed. He is so right.