The Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication has claimed that media has degenerated into platforms on which to disseminate hatred.
Dr Paolo Ruffini said that communication is supposed to be constructive, connect people and promote understanding.
However, the Vatican representative states that just as “evil cannot be fought with evil, truth cannot be served with misinformation”.
Dr Ruffini was speaking in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the ‘Arab Media Convention for Human Fraternity’ on February 4 with his speech text later released by the Vatican.
The event at the Manarat al Saadiyat, which included religious leaders from around the world, marked a historical anniversary celebration of the signing of the Document of Human Fraternity.
Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar and a leading religious authority for Sunni Muslims, signed the Document in the Emirate state last year.
During that 2019 meeting, Pope Francis on his apostolic visit to the country said: “There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future.
“Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.”
The Document includes a commitment to promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue and working for religious freedom for all.
Additionally, it denounces violence committed in the name of religion and discusses the role of the media in promoting respect and understanding.
Dr Ruffini said the Document calls upon journalists to “work together, as people of goodwill, so that the digital era, the era of the mass media, the era of communication might lead us to the culture of mutual respect”.
He said that journalists should strive to remove “the false necessity of controversy, the false imperative that one’s identity depends on having an enemy”.
“The world is hungry for peace, truth and justice,” said Dr Ruffini, adding that it is up to journalists to satiate that hunger.
For the Vatican and for participants at the Abu Dhabi conference, he said marking the anniversary of the human fraternity document is a time to renew “the commitment to always be instruments of peace, even – or perhaps above all – in the way in which we communicate”.