Below are four paragraphs (59-62) from the Instrumentum Laboris or “working document” prepared for the Synod of Bishops dealing with the subject of “The New Frontier of the Communications Sector”.
The document recognizes the challenges presented by digital technologies, while at the same time considers them a major factor in the “Church’s ministry of evangelization” and a “new social space” for evangelizatio
The New Frontier of the Communications’ Sector
59. The Lineamenta responses also made note of communications, the sixth sector, which provide great opportunities today and, at the same time, represent a major challenge for the Church. Initially, communications was a characteristic of the industrialized world only.However, in today’s globalized world, this sector also affects a vast number of developing countries. Every place on the globe, bar none, can be reached by communications, and is therefore subject to the influence of the electronic and media culture.These media are fast becoming the “forum” of civic life and social experience, which is sufficiently illustrated in the widespread use of the internet.
60. The responses refer to the generally-held belief that, today, the new digital technologies have given rise to an entirely new social space where the connections created have the potential of influencing society and culture. The media process, resulting from these technologies, is having an impact on people’s lives and is changing reality itself by incisively entering into people’s experiences and widening human potential. Our perception of self, others and the world are influenced by them. Communication technologies and the space created by them must therefore be viewed positively, without prejudice, as a resource which requires a discerning eye and a wise and responsible employment.
61. The Church is engaged in these areas created by the media and has, from the very beginning, utilized these means as a useful way to proclaim the Gospel. Today, in addition to the more traditional means of communication, especially the printed word and radio, which, according to the responses, have moderately increased in recent years, new media are increasingly becoming a major factor in the Church’s ministry of evangelization, making interaction possible at various levels: local, national, continental and global. The potential for using both old and new media is clear, as is the need to take advantage of this newly created social space and introduce the vocabulary and forms of the Christian tradition. An attentive and shared discernment process is needed not only to better assess the possibilities of their use in proclaiming the Gospel, but also to understand properly the risks and dangers involved.
62. Indeed, the spread of the culture created by communications undoubtedly brings many benefits. Among them are: a greater access to information; more opportunities for knowledge and dialogue; new forms of solidarity; and the ability to foster an increasingly global culture which leads to a shared heritage of values and the better development of thought and human activity. This potential, however, does not eliminate the dangers inherent in the excessive diffusion of such a culture. Their effects are already being manifested in a deeply, self-centred attentiveness to individual needs only, and an exaltation of emotion in relationships and social ties, thus leading to a diminution and loss of the objective value of deeply human experiences, such as meditation and silence. It equally is leading to an excess in holding to one’s individual thinking and a gradual reduction of ethics and civic life to appearance only. These dangers might eventually result in a so-called culture which is short-lived, immediately gratifying and based on mere appearance or a society incapable of looking to either the past or the future. In such a situation, Christians must be bold in entering these “new areopaghi”, learning to evaluate them in light of the Gospel and finding the instruments and methods to ensure that, even in these places, the educational patrimony and the wisdom guarded by Christian Tradition is heard today.