Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 9, 2009
Announce the Gospel online, Benedict urges young people
Pope Benedict is asking young Catholics to use their online communications to express the joy of their faith.
BY CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict asked young Catholics to use their computers, Facebook accounts, blogs and Internet video posts to share with their peers the joy of faith in Christ.
“Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm,” the pope told young people in his message for the 2009 celebration of World Communications Day.
“Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth and where identity is found in respectful communion,” said Pope Benedict’s message, which was released at the Vatican Jan. 23.
The theme for the 2009 World Communications Day, which will be celebrated May 24, is New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.
Releasing the message included emailing it directly to 100,000 young Catholics around the world.
In his message, Pope Benedict said that if used creatively and correctly, new computer technologies can help people meet the human longing to connect with others and share the search for goodness, beauty and truth.
Of course, he said, people must “avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.”
Praising the way young people use the Internet to form and maintain friendships, he also cautioned against trivializing friendship by not forming real, face-to-face relationships.
The pope said it would be sad if people substitute online friendship for engagement “with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation.”
Still, Pope Benedict said, new technologies have an “extraordinary potential” to bring people together, to help them share information, to rally them to work for good causes and to educate.
“They respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other,” he said.
“When we find ourselves drawn toward other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call.”
Much of the pope’s message was addressed to the “digital generation,” to young people who have grown up using computers and cellular phones, email and text messaging.
He asked them “to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world” and to write about the joys of faith when they write their profiles on social-networking sites or blogs.
The greatest gift they can give their friends, he said, “is to share with them the good news of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people.”
Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said people who have grown up with computer technology “and integrated it naturally into their lifestyles” communicate, learn, get information and engage in political and social activities differently than people over 40 years old, the so-called “digital immigrants.”
But, he said, young people and anyone else using the new technologies need to be careful about the content they are generating, sharing or drawing to the attention of others.