Catechism of the Catholic Church

598 Part Three 2495 “It is necessary that all members of society meet the demands of justice and charity in this domain. They should help, through the means of social communication, in the formation and diffusion of sound public opinion.” 287 Solidarity is a consequence of genuine and right communi­ cation and the free circulation of ideas that further knowledge and respect for others. 2496 The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice mod­ eration and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist un­ wholesome influences. 2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an oblig­ ation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation. 2498 “Civil authorities have particular responsibilities in this field because of the common good. . . . It is for the civil authority . . . to defend and safeguard a true and just freedom of information.” 288 By promulgating laws and overseeing their application, public authorities should ensure that “public morality and social progress are not gravely endangered” through misuse of the media. 289 Civil authorities should punish any violation of the rights of individuals to their reputation and privacy. They should give timely and reliable reports concerning the general good or re­ spond to the well-founded concerns of the people. Nothing can justify re­ course to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media. Interventions by public authority should avoid injuring the free­ dom of individuals or groups. 2499 Moral judgment must condemn the plague of totalitarian states which systematically falsify the truth, exercise political control of opinion through the media, manipulate defendants and witnesses at public trials, and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider “thought crimes.” 287 IM 8. 288 IM 12. 289 IM 12 § 2. 906 2525 2237 2286 1903