VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic media have a responsibility to be “spiritual antennas” that connect the world to the sufferings of the poor and the unwanted in society, especially prisoners on death row, Pope Francis said.

During a Dec. 13 audience with journalists and collaborators of Telepace, an Italian Catholic television and radio station, the pope encouraged them to “transmit and receive” the “spiritual signs of the Father’s merciful love.”

“In your profession, may you be ‘living channels’ of spirituality to God and to all your listeners and viewers. Especially the poor, the last ones, the excluded. Never forget them, the poor next door!” the pope said.

Pope Francis also encouraged them to be close to inmates, especially those on death row awaiting their executions.

He recalled the ministry of Father Guido Todeschini, director of Telepace, who accompanied two death row inmates — Ivan Ray Murphy and Bryan Eric Wolfe — until their executions in 2003 and 2005, respectively, in Huntsville, Texas.

Both inmates, who claimed they were innocent of their crimes, thanked Father Todeschini in their final statements for his spiritual support before their deaths.

“Continue to be close to the imprisoned, to those condemned to death — it is awful that there is still the death penalty — such as when you accompanied and assisted two young people to the execution chamber after having comforted them with the sacraments,” the pope said.

Pope Francis encouraged the members of Telepace to be like “doves of peace” that soar throughout the world “with the two wings of prayer and charity” and to not be trapped by the petty gossip that “ensnares the human community, sowing envy, jealousy and lust for power.”

“I renew my invitation to promote a journalism of peace,” the pope said. “A journalism made of people for people and that includes all people, especially those — they are the majority in the world — who do not have a voice, a journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”