Pope Benedict said the Catholic press has an irreplaceable role in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the Church's viewpoint on contemporary issues.
Despite the crisis in print media today, the Catholic newspaper still has a vital role to play in diocesan communications, the pope told leaders among the Italian Catholic press Nov. 26.
The pope said while secular media often reflect a skeptical and relativistic attitude toward truth, the Church knows people need the full truth brought by Christ.
"The mission of the Church consists in creating the conditions so that this meeting with Christ can be realized. Cooperating in this task, the communications media are called to serve the truth with courage, to help public opinion see and read reality from an evangelical viewpoint."
A main task of the Catholic press, he said, is to express "a point of view that reflects Catholic thinking on all ethical and social questions."
The pope said the printed newspaper, because of its simplicity and widespread distribution, remains an effective way of spreading news about local diocesan events and developments.
As "newspapers of the people," he said, Catholic papers can also favour real dialogue between different social sectors and debate among people of different opinions.
"By doing this, Catholic newspapers not only fulfill the important task of providing information, but also perform an irreplaceable formative function" in the education of "critical and Christian consciences," he said.
The pope said the success of Catholic journalists depends above all on their personal relationship with Christ.