Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pope Benedict on Social Communications

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The digital world, everything that has to do with information technology, social networks and the use of “gadgets” is always under threat from behaviour which is less than “honest” and truthful, a use which is “dehumanised”; and this is one of the concerns expressed by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in the message which every year sets the scene for the World Day of Social Communications which this year reaches its 45th anniversary.

The subject for the Day this year “Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age”, highlights the concern not only of the Church but of all people interested in the technological means which in recent years have become an integral part of our daily life in having a human face: those means which enable the establishment of real social networks, but which in spite of their capacity for bringing people together do not in themselves ensure any profound relationship between people.

Adding names to a list of “personal friends” does not demonstrate our ability to make healthy, positive and constructive friendships – nor does it make it impossible –; it depends, as with all technologies, on the use one makes of these means.

The Pope’s insistence that people use well these “digital blessings” is very relevant, since the temptation to use them in a superficial and less than human manner is always present.

Often in the people who make use of the virtual spaces there is a split between their faith and the way they behave on line. When they find themselves in front of a screen which gives them access to the Internet they easily adopt attitudes which are hardly in keeping with the message of the Gospel and fidelity to the Truth. They behave in ways which can lead to “alternative lives” or to living in a world far removed from reality, that which requires a commitment and an effort to live with other people.

Young people, precisely because they are at home in the digital world, and for whom any kind of technology can easily become an integral part of life, are in this context the very ones who can be a humanising and evangelising presence in the “digital arena” whenever they accept the challenge put to them by Benedict XVI: to make use of all these means for good, their own and that of their peers, which is also the invitation presented again by the message of this year.

But this challenge for the young brings with it another, equally serious, for adults. To the extent that parents, teachers and those who shape public opinion, Catholics or not, succeed in putting before young people and children everything possible that is good and honest through technology (and this depends on good example), the dark clouds of lies and falsehood which in many cases cover the digital world could be dispersed and the tremendous potential for good together with its important role in the building of the Kingdom would come clearly into view.

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