Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, described those guiding principles for journalists as outlined by the Church's magisterium in the education of communicators.
The archbishop spoke Friday during the meeting on "Consecrated Life and the Culture of Communication," organized by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum along with St. Paul Publishers.
"All forms of social communication," he said, "evidence three basic principles: the priority of truth -- we are never justified in recounting lies; the dignity of the individual -- our communication should enhance and not diminish our innate human dignity; the common good -- our communication should contribute to the good of the community and not harm it morally or in any other way."
"These three should be the dominant principles in our life: the truth, the dignity of the individual, and the common good," Archbishop Foley said. "If all communicators were always guided by these three principles, our world would be a happier place."
The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications recalled how the Church, from the start, has paid attention to the media.
"The starting point is the Bible," Archbishop Foley said. He also cited the example of books and newspapers; among the latter the Church boasts some of the oldest.
John Foley himself once headed the Catholic Standard & Times, founded in 1832, one of the oldest Catholic newspapers in the world.
"L'Osservatore Romano appeared during Pius IX's Pontificate, and was providential in the course of the Second World War, because the Church could have a voice free of Fascist censure," he noted.
In the area of movies, Archbishop Foley said that "the Vatican Film Library has one of the first documentaries produced by students of the Lumiere Brothers in 1896, which catches Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican Gardens."
The first official Church document on the cinema was Pius XI's 1936 encyclical "Vigilanti Cura." The second was Pius XII's 1957 encyclical "Miranda Prorsus."
In 1931, Pius XI was able to address his first radio message in Latin to the world, for the inauguration of Vatican Radio. In 1983, John Paul II established the Vatican Television Center.