In digital age, Pope calls for culture of human encounter
(Editor’s Note: The following is a summary of Pope Francis’ message on the 48th World Communications Day today, Ascension Sunday.)
We are enamored by all sorts of gadgets and technological advancements within our reach.
The world of the Internet includes the most exciting arena for communications like social networking and establishing links anywhere around the globe in an instant.
But despite such advancements, divisions still run deep. “The world suffers from exclusion, marginalization and poverty that borders around the combination of economic, political, ideological and even religious motives,” Pope Francis says in his message on the 48th World Communications Day, which is observed today, Ascension Sunday.
In his message, “Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter,” the Holy Father underscores an authentic culture of encounter among the people in the vast world of social communications.
The Holy Father stresses that communication is an “ultimately human rather than a technological achievement.”
“A culture of encounter needs a listening ear and an understanding heart that listens to different cultures and traditions,” the Holy Father says.
According to the Holy Father, the parable of the Good Samaritan provides the key to the very heart of communications: “Who is my neighbor?”
“Communication is not aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others … we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road. The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbor, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance. Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor,” the Holy Father says.
“It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply ‘connected’; connections need to grow into true encounters,” he says.
“We need to love and be loved. The world of media is called to tenderness … the digital highway is teeming with people who are hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope,” he says.
The Holy Father encourages all Catholics to practice neighborliness to all, even in the vast world of social networks.
“Show that the Church is home to all. The social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of the faith, the beauty of encountering Christ,” the Holy Father says.
Neighborliness demands that we dialogue with men and women, understand expectations, doubts and hopes, and bring them the Gospel, Jesus himself. Let our communication be a balm relieving pain and fine wine to gladden our hearts … the challenge of media is to share with others the beauty of God,” he says.
Let us practice neighborliness in social networks and let the beauty of God emanate from this wonderful technology.
(Fr. Joselito Jopson is executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Social Communications.)