Pope Benedict decries 'destructive' media

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ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI issued his strongest criticism yet of electronic media Friday, saying the fast-growing form of communications has the potential to be "destructive."

Speaking at the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications at the Vatican late Friday, the pontiff said new high-tech methods of communication should exist for the "great benefit (of) civilization" ... in the form of "quality documentaries and news services, wholesome entertainment, and thought-provoking debates and interviews."

But too often, Benedict said, the "ascendancy of the electronic media coincides with its increasing concentration in the hands of a few multinational conglomerates whose influence crosses all social and cultural boundaries."

It is "readily apparent," the pontiff went on, "that much of what is transmitted in various forms to the homes of millions of families around the world is destructive."

The pope concluded by calling for the media to take a more aggressive stance toward making sure that its messages communicated "the ways of beauty, truth, and goodness."

Though the pontiff has not been shy about criticizing specific aspects of media -- specific films or books, for example -- this is the most obvious salvo against the sector in his two-year-old papacy.

As the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, Benedict wields a strong influence, especially in highly Catholic countries in Latin America and parts of Asia.
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