|(Vatican Radio IMAGE SHARE )Read the full text of Pope Benedict's message for the 47th World
Communications Day: |
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.
These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.
The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.
The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).
The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.
The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.
In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate “choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.
For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice” (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “kindly light” of faith.
Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).
In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.
I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).
From the Vatican, 24 January 2013, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
TELEGRAM FOR THE DEATH OF CARDINAL JOZEF GLEMP
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, Poland for the death of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, archbishop of that archdiocese from 1981 to 2006. Cardinal Glemp died yesterday at the age of 83.
Following are ample excerpts from his telegram.
"'Caritati in iustitia'—for charity in justice—this episcopal motto accompanied him throughout his entire life and guided his way of thinking, of judging , of making decisions, and in offering guidelines of pastoral outreach. He was a 'just' man, in the spirit of St. Joseph, his patron, and those who, in biblical tradition, knew how to listen to the voice of God's call, addressed not just to them personally, but also to the communities to which they were sent. Such justice, full of humble obedience to God's will, was the basis of his deep love for God and man, which was his light, inspiration, and strength in the difficult ministry of leading the Church at a time when significant social and political transformations were affecting Poland and Europe."
"The love of God and of Church and his concern for the life and dignity of every person made him an apostle of unity against division, of harmony in the face of confrontation, of the building of a happy future based on the past joyous and sorrowful experiences of the Church and the nation. Continuing the work of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, in constant communion with and spiritually connected to Pope John Paul II, he resolved many issues and problems in the political, social, and religious life of the Polish people with great prudence. Trusting in Divine Providence, he looked hopefully toward the new millennium into which he led the community of believers in Poland."
"The last stage of his life was tried by suffering, which he endured with a serenity of spirit. Even in this test he remained a witness to trusting in the goodness and love of omnipotent God."
"Personally, I always appreciated his sincere goodness, his simplicity, his openness, and his cordial dedication to the cause of the Church in Poland and in the world. Thus will he remain in my memory and my prayers. May the Lord welcome him in His glory."
|POPE ASSESSES SOCIAL MEDIA POSITIVELY |
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI's message for the 47th World Communications Day was presented this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See. The Day, which will take place this year on Sunday, 12 May, has the theme of "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelisation". Participating in the presentation were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of that same dicastery.
"The message of this World Communications Day," said Archbishop Celli, "presents a positive assessment, though not a naive one for that matter, of social media. They are considered an opportunity for dialogue and debate and capable of strengthening the bonds of unity among people and effectively promoting the harmony of the human family. However, this positive character requires that one's actions be conducted with concern for privacy, with responsibility and dedication to the truth, and with authenticity, given that it has to do not only with information and knowledge but, essentially, with communicating a part of our very selves."
"The social dynamic of the social media, it is appropriate to point out, lies within the even richer and more profound dynamic of the human heart's existential search. There is an interweaving of questions and answers that gives meaning to the human person's path. In this context, the Pope touches upon a delicate aspect of the matter when he speaks of the ocean of excessive information that overwhelms 'the gentle voice of reason'."
"The theme of the Day speaks of new spaces for evangelisation: evangelisation that announces the Word, that proclaims Jesus Christ. In this regard we must remember what Benedict XVI wrote in his message for the World Communications Day in 2011, when he emphasized that it was not only an explicit expression of the Faith, but essentially, an effective witness 'in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically'."
Following Archbishop Celli's address, Msgr. Tighe explained that "the Pope takes for granted the importance of the digital environment as a reality in the lives of many people. It is not some sort of parallel or merely virtual world but an existential environment where people live and move. It is a ‘continent’ where the Church must be present and where believers, if they are to be authentic in their presence, will seek to share with others the deepest source of their joy and hope, Jesus Christ. The forum created by the social networks allows us to share the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching."
Likewise, the Holy Father "identifies some of the challenges that we must address if our presence is to be effective. We must become more fluent in the language of the social networks; a language that is born of the convergence of text, image and sound, a language that is characterized by brevity and that seeks to engage hearts and minds as well as the intellect. In this regard, the Pope reminds us to draw on our Christian heritage which is rich in signs, symbols and artistic expression. We need to remember a basic truth of communications: our witness – our actions and our patterns of behaviour – is often more eloquent than our words and proclamations in expressing who we are and what we believe. In the digital arena, the Pope suggests that our willingness to engage patiently and respectfully with the questions and doubts of those we encounter in the networks can be a powerful expression of our care and concern for them. Notwithstanding the challenges, we should always be hopeful."
|TELEGRAM IN COMMEMORATION OF GIOVANNI AGNELLI |
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ,S.D.B., sent a telegram in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Italy for the memorial Mass of Sen. Giovanni Agnelli, president of the Fiat automobile manufacturer, on the tenth anniversary of his death.
In the text the Pope recalls the senator who, "over more than a half century, was the centre of national and international attention for his remarkable entrepreneurial skills" as well as "his Christian faith, which crowned a long and fruitful existence."
|OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS |
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed as members of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology: Dr. Carlo Ebanista, associate professor of Christian and Medieval Archaeology in the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of the University of Molise, Italy and professor of Antiquities and Medieval Archaeology in the Arts and Philosophy department of the Federico II University in Naples, Italy; Dr. Emilio Marin, tenured professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Split, Croatia and member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres of the Institut de France.