By MADELEINE TEAHAN on Thursday, 23 January 2014
Pope Francis has said that the internet is “a gift from God” in his first World Communications Day message.
To mark the 48th World Communications Day, Pope Francis said: “Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances.
“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
In his address, Pope Francis urged Catholics to be like the Good Samaritan, by reaching out to their neighbour through social media. He said: “How can we be ‘neighbourly’ in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him.
“Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as “neighbourliness”.
The Pope also said that Christian witness was not about “bombarding” people with religious messages “but about our willingness to be available 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 (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013).”
Returning to a previous theme Pope Francis said that a “bruised” Church was preferable to self-absorbed one. He said: “As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all.
“Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.”