VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict called on the media on Thursday to practise "info-ethics", saying it was often used irresponsibly to spread violence and impose "distorted models" of life.
In his message for the Catholic Church's World Communications Day, Benedict said that while the media did much good, it was also often used for ideological reasons and tried to create reality rather than report it.
"When communication loses its ethical underpinning and eludes society's control, it ends up no longer taking into account the centrality and inviolable dignity of the human person," he said in the three-page message.
"For this reason it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity. Many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life," he said.
The media, he said, often risked being transformed into what he called "systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day".
Under Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, the Vatican has often accused the media of promoting consumerism and elements of lifestyles that it considers unethical, such as pre-marital sex and homosexuality.
"While claiming to represent reality, it can tend to legitimise or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life," Benedict said.
"Moreover, in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, it does not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence, and to overstep the mark," he said.
Proper use of the media, including the Internet, was emerging as a key challenge of the third millennium, he said.
The Church marks its World Communications Day on May 4.
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