The world's media outlets should use their power to promote peace and understanding and to mobilize aid during natural disasters, as happened following the tsunami in Asia, Pope John Paul II said Monday.
"Modern technology places at our disposal unprecedented possibilities for good, for spreading the truth of our salvation in Jesus Christ and for fostering harmony and reconciliation," the pope said in the written message for the church's World Communications Day.
"Yet its misuse can do untold harm, giving rise to misunderstanding, prejudice and even conflict. When others are portrayed in hostile terms, seeds of conflict are sown which can all too easily escalate into violence, war or even genocide."
News sources say the Pope dedicated his daily private Mass in the Vatican on Monday morning to journalists, praying so they would be able to carry out their profession properly and ethically.
The pope said the international community's response to the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster "was heartening." The earthquake-generated waves killed at least 160,000 people in 11 countries across Asia and Africa.
"The speed with which news travels today naturally increases the possibility for timely practical measures designed to offer maximum assistance," he said. "In this way the media can achieve an immense amount of good."