Print Version    Email to Friend
Pope urges less sensationalism and more respectful dialogue on social networks


VATICAN CITY (CNS): In his message for World Communications Day, released on January 24, Pope Benedict XVI says that Christians are called to bring truth and values to the whole world—online and off—remembering that it is ultimately the power of God’s word that touches hearts, not sheer human effort.

The theme for 2013 is, Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelisation.

The pope said that social media needs to promote more logic, kindness and Christian witness than bluster, star-status and division. 

He explains that given that the online world exposes people to a wider range of opinions and beliefs, people need to accept the existence of these other cultures, “be enriched by it” and offer others what “they possess that is good, true and beautiful.” 

Social media needs “the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation,” the pope says, adding that social forums need to be used wisely and well, which means fostering balanced and respectful dialogue and debate, and paying special attention to “privacy, responsibility and truthfulness.” 

Pope Benedict noted that, too often, popularity—garnered either from fame or strategic powers of persuasion—determines the “significance and effectiveness” of online communication, not “intrinsic importance or value.” 

He adds that Catholics can show their authenticity by sharing their hope and joy, and its source in Jesus Christ. They also should give witness by the way they live their lives and how their “choices, preferences and judgments” are fully consistent with the gospel. 

Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told reporters during a briefing that the pope is asking everyone to take responsibility for creating a more humane culture online by being respectful, honest and contributing to the growth and wellbeing of individuals and society through social networks. 

Monsignor Tighe said that often in new media the attitude is “the more provocative I am, the more strident, the more extreme I am in my views, the more attention I get.”

However, he said the pope “is calling for the importance of the quiet voice of reason; we need moderation, reason and logic otherwise our debates are going nowhere.”......


More from this section