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The Pope Calls for “Rapid Development” of the “Marvelous Things”

By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC


“Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank "among the marvelous things" -- "inter mirifica" -- which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom.”
Pope John Paul II


Today, February 22, 2005, the Feast of the Chair of Peter in the Western Church, the current Prophet occupying that Chair, Pope John Paul II, released an Apostolic Letter entitled “The Rapid Development.” It was addressed to “those responsible for Communications” and to all the faithful. It is wonderful. This article is a first reflection upon the content of the letter and its implications.

First, it is important to note that as millions the world over have prayed for the recovery of this wonderful Pope, still others have been too quick to “count him out”, fanning efforts to call for his “resignation”. Once again, he has showed his mettle, as well as his backbone, demonstrating the essence of his call to build a new culture of life and civilization of love. He has now become his message; a prophetic sign of how God’s power is still, in the words of the Apostle Paul “made perfect in weakness.” Pope John Paul II is an example of an elderly, disabled and frail giant, fruitfully pouring himself out for the Lord whom he so beautifully serves. He has also revealed the beating of his holy heart for the “New Evangelization.”

In the closing of this succinct yet profound letter he uses the very words with which he began his service to the Church and the world into which she has been sent to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ; “Be Not Afraid!” He points to one of his earlier encyclical letters “The Mission of the Redeemer”, wherein he referred to the world of communications as one of the “Aereopagi” of modern culture. The “Aereopagus” was a public square in Athens where the ancient of Greece would discuss the weightier issues of the day with the goal of discovering the truth.

St. Paul discoursed with these Greeks (See, Acts of the Apostles, and Chapter 17) in a now famous example of how Christians are sent into every culture to engage the age with eternal truth through dialogue. Clearly, Pope John Paul II, faithful to his namesake, the Apostle Paul, is positioning the media and the new communication technologies as an opportunity, as well as a challenge to the believers of our age, to do just that…and a whole lot more.

Noting that this insightful and directive letter is being written “more than forty years after…fruitful progress in the wake of the Decree “Inter Mirifica””, the groundbreaking Decree of the Second Vatican Council on Social Communications, he concludes this current letter by playing upon the literal translation of the Latin Title of that Decree promulgated by Pope Paul VI. “Inter Mirifica” means “Marvelous Things!”

The use of this linguistic device in the current letter gives us a profound insight into the message and the mission of this wonderful Pope. He is clearly “not afraid” of the internet or the growing integrated media platform which it has opened. He sees all of these communications technologies as “marvelous things” to be used by holy men and women for the Gospel, the mission of the Church and the common good.

Never in the history of the Church have we been able to send the liberating message of the Gospel and the beauty of the treasury of Catholic Christian teaching throughout the world in “real time.” He has called for the faithful to do just that in this letter. In doing so he has underscored why many, myself included, are convinced that he will go down in history as “John Paul the Great.”

This letter is a clarion call to use all of the new media technologies, through the pipeline that is the internet or the “world wide web”, for the missionary task of the Church in all of its fullness. John Paul writes: “the Church is not only called upon to use the mass media to spread the Gospel but, today more than ever, to integrate the message of salvation into the "new culture" that these powerful means of communication create and amplify. It tells us that the use of the techniques and the technologies of contemporary communications is an integral part of its mission in the third millennium.” (par.2)

In the first part of this small but poignant letter he deals with the challenge we face in this task, the very real need for the conversion of the medium by the message. There is no doubt that the potential presented by these new technologies can be used for good or for evil. That is where the human person - and our extraordinary capacity for freedom- is so integral to the task. This medium will be used as a tool by human persons. ...

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