In his message for the 45th World Communications Day, traditionally published on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, the Pope emphasizes the hunger of todays youth for communion and dialogue and the opportunities that the Internet and social networking offer for communicating on the planetary level. These new technologies, however, must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity.
In view of this, the Pope invites people to communicate in ways that give a person a correct self-image, warning everyone to avoid taking refuge in the virtual world so as to avoid the concrete situations of daily life, and to beware of substituting virtual relationships for direct contact with other people. Benedict XVI says that a concrete way of being a Christian presence in the digital world is through a communicational style that is honest and open, responsible and respect-ful of others.
It does not mean simply inserting expressly religious content into different media platforms; it also means that Christians must offer a consistent witness to those who ask for a reason for the hope that is within them. In this regard, the Pope holds up as a model the figure of Jesus walking with his dis-ciples toward Emmaus. He says Christians must challenge some of the ways of thinking typ-ical of the Web, in the awareness that the truth does not derive its worth from its popularity or from the amount of attention it receives. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction, not something to be consumed or used superficially, but a gift to be shared. The Pope reminds everyone that those who dedicate themselves to communication and evangelization through the new instruments of technology must not do so simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but so as to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Sa-vior of humanity and of history.
Commenting on the Pontiffs message, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli said that an upcoming Church document will offer Catholics guidelines concerning how to be present on the Internet. The Web already has numerous sites that claim to be Catholic but that are, in fact, promoted by fundamentalist and nostalgic movements, while others are at times even aggressive and violent. In contrast to this, the Pope urges Catholics to always maintain a res-pectful communicational style that does not try to oppress or crush others but instead fosters dialogue and sharing. In order to do this, communications via the Internet must be carried out conscientiously and professionally.
The title of the Popes Message: Truth and Proclamation in the Digital Age should be understood in this light, inasmuch as the truth is Christ, who is proclaimed above all by the authenticity of a persons life, not the attempt to present him in a distorted way through virtual images that do not correspond to who we are and what we concretely bring to others as the community of believers.
Giusto Truglia, ssp