Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online

1/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values

There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth. (Pope Benedict XVI)

Pope Benedict XVI 'tweeting' to the faithful around the globe

Pope Benedict XVI 'tweeting' to the faithful around the globe

Highlights

By Catholic Online

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: social media, world communications day, Vatican, social networks, world wide web, new evangelization


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - As eager and long time participants in what Pope Benedict XVI calls the the new digital "agora" - a Greek word which referred to the central palce in a City where the public would gather to communicate - made possible by social media, Catholic Online is pleased to present the full text of the Holy Father's message on this World Communications Day below.

*****

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new "agora", an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation.

At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process.

Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. "Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful" (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important.

The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God's love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind's artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate "choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically" (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind's questions about love, truth and the meaning of life - questions certainly not absent from social networks - are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God's work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means.

In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in "a still, small voice" (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth - a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman - keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the "kindly light" of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith.

An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor 13:1).

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith.

In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God's Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15).


From the Vatican, 24 January 2013, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Technology

'Big Brother' is watching you on your iPhone, Edward Snowden believes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on some dubious, privacy robbing practices of the United States government, now thinks that Apple's iPhone has "special software." This gadget, he says, lets authorities remotely gather information ... continue reading


Doomsday is approaching! The symbolic Doomsday Clock moves closer to the fatal end Watch

Image of This is the closest the world has been to Doomsday since 1953.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Doomsday is the closest it's been since 1953, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock." The clock now stands at three minutes to midnight. Midnight represents the end of the world. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Doomsday Clock, created ... continue reading


Search giant, Google, has daring plans to infiltrate the competitive wireless cellphone service market Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The wireless phone game may soon be changing up. Currently there are four major names competing for customers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. However, Google reportedly has plans to enter the business of cellular service. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It was ... continue reading


High-tech drug smuggling: Drone found bearing meth near San Ysidro Port of Entry Watch

Image of Plastic webbing and strips of black tape was used to secure the drug packages to the drone, police said. The aircraft itself had six propellers and a lithium battery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Drug smuggling has entered the high-tech age. A drone carrying methamphetamine, a stimulant that goes under the street names of "crank" and "Tina," crashed in Mexico near the San Ysidro Port of Entry this week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The unmanned ... continue reading


California-based rocket company gets big bucks influx from Google, Fidelity Watch

Image of SpaceX leader Elon Musk says that the revenue generated by the venture could go toward building a city on Mars. This, he says, would further his long-held goal of turning humanity into a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

California-based rocket company SpaceX has received a $1 billion investment from Google and Fidelity. The sudden influx of cash now brings the company's worth to more than $10 billion. SpaceX intends to construct a globe-spanning satellite constellation. LOS ... continue reading


Is it world domination? No, it's just Netflix Watch

Image of Netflix, the Internet streaming giant, has posted higher than expected growth and revenue for 2014.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Online streaming giant Netflix has finished 2014 with 57.4 million subscribers, up more than four million from their third quarter figures; making this their largest growth of subscribers all year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Additionally, the company's ... continue reading


Hacker's delight! BAD passwords make it airtight! Watch

Image of Unimaginative, kneejerk and obvious passwords used to encrypt personal data means potential hackers just need to enter a few keystrokes, and voila! Your entire life is there for the taking!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the recent attack on Sony Pictures by purported agents from North Korea prove, the more things change - the more they remain the same. Unimaginative, kneejerk and obvious passwords used to encrypt personal data means potential hackers just need to enter a ... continue reading


No longer a science fiction fantasy, the possibility of designer babies may threaten the world's reproductive future Watch

Image of While

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Designer babies" may soon be a reality as major strides have been made in germ-line genetic modifications. Dr. Tony Perry, of the University of Bath, has announced results in precise DNA editing at conception in mice, according to BBC. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


They could be watching you! Secret radar device unconstitutionally allows law enforcement to covertly 'see' through walls Watch

Image of The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service use a radar system to detect motion with radio waves.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A secret radar device, able to detect if anyone is inside a building, is now being used by at least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies. According to USA Today, using this kind of technology is "a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance." ... continue reading


The cure for deadly Ebola virus is closer than ever! Scientists find the key to a working treatment in genetically engineered, cloned ... cows? Watch

Image of Genetically engineered cows are being vaccinated against a variety of deadly diseases with hopes of finding curing antibodies.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ebola antibodies are being brewed up in cloned, genetically engineered, cattle. These animals were created with hopes of finding a way to treat the deadly Ebola virus. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to NBC News, the special herd of cattle is currently ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 25th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter