Internet as Gift of God – Pope Francis

by | Jan 23, 2014 | Pope

“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.  This is something truly good, a gift from God.”

There is no mistaking the style of Pope Francis in the  annual message for the church’s World Day of Communications. It is  filled with nuggets. The formal title of the message is “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter,” one of the signature phrases of Francis’ papacy.

John Allen draws attention to these insights…

Francis called on the media, both established institutions and protagonists of the new social media, to exercise greater “deliberateness and calm,” in part so they have time to be “genuinely attentive in listening to others.”

“We need to be patient if we want to understand people who are different from us,” Francis said. “People only express themselves when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted.”

The pope also adverted to the realities of an ever-expanding galaxy of media outlets in which it’s increasingly easy for people to draw their news and commentary only from sources that reflect their own views.

In that light, he called on media consumers not to “barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”

In fleshing out his vision of a more human form of communications, Francis offered a couple of trademark uses of pastoral imagery.

It’s not enough to be “passerby on the digital highways,” he said, invoking an image from the biblical parallel of the Good Samaritan.

Communication intended to manipulate or to promote consumption, the pope said, is a form “violent aggression” akin to that suffered by the man in the Gospel parable.

Later, he said that digital networks is made up “not of wires, but of people.”

While Francis urged Catholics to see the media as a missionary territory, an arena to communicate Christian values such as “the nature of marriage and the family” and “the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres,” he also clearly cautioned against bombastic proselytism.

“Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages,” he said, but rather reaching out to people in a spirit of dialogue.

“To dialogue means to believe that the ‘other’ has something worthwhile to say,” the pope said.

“Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions,” Francis said, “but the idea that they alone are valid or absolute.”

Some insights that are well applicable to what passes for political discourse.


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