2017-03-10 14:51:00

Holy See calls for responsibility to accompany media freedom

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See’s representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday said freedom of the media requires ‘great responsibility’.

Msgr. Janusz S. Urbańczyk told the OSCE that it is “important to stress that the great role of the media is accompanied by great responsibility. Because, with every right – such as freedom of expression – there follows obligations.”

His address came after the presentation of a report by the OSCE representative on freedom of the media.

Msgr. Urbańczyk cited Pope Francis’ address to journalists in September 2016: “In life not everything is black or white. Even in journalism, you have to know how to discern the shades of grey of the events that you are called to cover… This is the job – we could also say the mission, difficult and at the same time necessary – of a journalist: to get as close as possible to the truth of the facts and never to say or to write anything which, in conscience, is known to be untrue”.

Below please find Msgr. Urbańczyk’s full address:

Mr. Chairman,

I join previous speakers in thanking Ms.  Dunja Mijatović for her  final and,  as  always,  insightful  report  to  the  Permanent  Council concerning  the  activities  of  the  Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

My  Delegation  shares  in  a  particular  way  the  concern  of  the  RFoM  about  freedom of expression, free media and  free  information.  At the same time, the Holy  See  is  convinced,  as  Pope  Francis  stressed  during  the  audience  for  the  Italian  National Council of Journalists on 22 September 2016, that “the journalist has a role  of great importance and, at the same time, a role of great responsibility. In some way  you  [journalists]  write the first draft of history, building the agenda of the news and  also  introducing  people  to  the  interpretation  of  events” (1).


It  is,  in  this  regard, important  to  stress  that  the  great  role  of  the  media  is  accompanied  by  great  responsibility.  Because,  with  every  right  –  such  as  freedom  of  expression  – there  follows  obligations.  In  fact,  professional  standards  and  ethics  among  journalists  do not inhibit or weaken the media profession, but  rather enables  it  to  carry  out  its  great  responsibility,  its  important  service  for  the  good  of  all,  something the RFoM has drawn attention to during her term.

In  the  abovementioned  meeting  with  journalists  His  Holiness  further  underlined  that:  “In  life  not  everything  is  black  or  white.  Even  in  journalism,  you  have to know how to discern the shades of grey of the events that you are called to  cover.  Political debates, and even many  situations of  conflict,  are rarely the result of  distinctly clear dynamics, where it can be recognized in  a  definite  and unambiguous  way who is wrong and who is right.  In the end,  confrontation and at times  conflict, derive precisely from this difficulty of reaching a synthesis among differing positions.  This  is  the  job–  we  could  also  say  the  mission,  difficult  and  at  the  same  time (1) necessary  – of a  journalist:  to get  as  close  as possible to the truth of the  facts and never to say or to write anything which, in conscience, is known to be untrue”. (2)

Moreover, touching upon the important mission  of  journalists  –  to serve as  an  instrument  of  reconciliation  and  of  encounter  –  the  Pope  stressed:  “I  hope  that  journalism  may  be  increasingly  and  everywhere  an  instrument  of  construction,  a  builder  of  the  common good, an accelerator  for  processes of reconciliation; may it  overcome the temptation  to foster  clashes with a  language  that  blows on the  embers of division; may it instead favour a culture of encounter.” (3)

Since  this  is  the  final  report  that  Ms.  Mijatović  presents  to  the  Permanent  Council in her capacity as  OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,  the Holy  See  takes  the  opportunity  to  recognise  the  commitment  and  accomplishments  she  brought  to  the  OSCE  and  to  the  participating  States,  not  only  to  freedom  of  the  media in general, but to journalists and their safety in particular.  I also, on behalf of  my  Delegation,  wish to thank you,  Ms. Mijatović,  for  the  wide-ranging knowledge,  professionalism and hard work that have   characterized  your  seven  years of service  to this Organization , and I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

Furthermore, I  would like to  take this opportunity to  convey the Holy See’s  gratitude  to  the  Austrian  Chairmanship,  for  its  ongoing  efforts  to  secure  the  appointment of a new Representative on Freedom of the Media  as well as to express  its hope  that such an appointment  may be  forthcoming  as soon as  possible,  and  that  the future Representative carry out the Office’s important mission to the  benefit of  all the participating States.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] His Holiness Pope Francis, Address to the National Council of the Order of Journalists, 22 September 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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