Pope urges Christians to ‘get online’
Pope Benedict has reiterated his call to Christians to “give a soul” to the internet’s “incessant flow of communications” and humanise the dynamics of the digital world.
Speaking to participants at a congress entitled, ‘Digital Witnesses. Faces and Languages in the Cross-media Era’ which was organised by the Italian bishops’ conference, the Pontiff said the Church had always boldly used the latest available technological means to broaden the reach of the Gospel message.
The Pope mentioned several problems associated with the internet, such as the “digital divide” that “separates those included from those excluded”.
He observed that the internet itself is by nature egalitarian, but it achieves that result only if everyone has access.
The ‘Digital Witness’ conference brought together experts in information technology, social networking, web journalism and blogging to focus on the way Christians communicate in online society.
Pope Benedict told participants that the task of every believer who works in media is to ensure the “quality of human contact, guaranteeing attention to people and their spiritual needs”.
“This is increasingly urgent in today’s world”, he said, at a time when the Internet appears to have a “basically egalitarian” vocation, but at the same time, “marks a new divide”, the “digital divide” that “separates the included from the excluded”.
“The dangers of information control and moral relativism are also increasing, as already recognisable in the decline of a critical spirit, in truth reduced to a game of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of the intimacy of the person”, he said. These problems, he added, lead to a “pollution of the spirit.”
The media, the Pontiff urged, must become a “humanising factor”, focused “on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples”. Only then, will “the epochal times we are experiencing be rich and fertile in new opportunities”.
“Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication”.
An active presence of Christians on the internet, would promote the cause of truth and human dignity, and fight against the tendency for people to “become bodies without a soul, objects to be exchanged and consumed,” the Pontiff said.
Active faith, he said, can be a “humanizing factor,” encouraging others to use the modern communications media for the common good.