‘Media has to be concerned with humanity’ – Pope Francis

Pope Francis urges Church to keep its digital door open:  ‘effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others’

Pope Francis has over 4 million followers on Twitter (Photo: Ray Attard)
Pope Francis has over 4 million followers on Twitter (Photo: Ray Attard)

Pope Francis has urged the Church to keep its digital door open, because an effective Christian witness is about the willingness to be available to others.

Marking the 48th World Communications Day, to be celebrated on Sunday, Pope Francis urged the Church “to boldly become citizens of the digital world.”

“The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way,” the Pope said.

“The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination.”

Pointing out how globalisation had made the world smaller and increasingly interdependent, yet divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within the human family.

“On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows.

“We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.”

The Pope said the media helps bring societies together, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all.

“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. At the same time, the speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.

“The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”

Pope Francis insisted that the the world of communications can help individuals either to expand their knowledge or to lose their bearings.

“The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.”

Like communication should be a human and not a technological achievement, the Pope said there should always be a time to be silent and to listen.

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

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