Pope Benedict XVI called on Thursday on the world's media to avoid becoming ideologically-driven sales tools filled with vulgarity and violence, a Vatican statement said.
Speaking on Saint Francis de Sales day, considered by the Catholic Church to be the patron saint of journalists, the pope said the role played by the media in modern society forms "a crucial challenge for the third millennium".
Mass media must "avoid becoming the megaphone for economic materialism and ethical relativism, (the) real wounds of our times".
He spoke of the media's "positive contribution" towards literacy, the spread of democracy and international dialogue but criticised its use "for ideological objectives, or for selling products through obsessive advertising" while "resorting to vulgarity and violence".
He wants "self-regulation" to encourage the growth of news ethics similar to that emerging in fields such as biomedical and life sciences.
On a similar theme, he also criticised western secular states as being "more sly" than Marxist equivalents, in an address to visiting Slovenian bishops.
Attacking the "frantic pursuit of material wealth" and "the reduction in birth rates", he lamented a shrinking of religious congregations along with a "marked" decline among those entering the priesthood and other religious vocations.
"Depending on which vision of man we choose to follow, the consequences for our society change," he added.
He also said that he objected to "numerous intellectuals who still find it difficult to accept the fact that reason and faith need each other to express their true nature and fulfill their purpose".
A row recently erupted over a cancelled speech by the pope at Rome's La Sapienza university after dozens of professors and students protested his presence at the secular school.