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Six Motives for Catholics to Use New Social Media
Fr Patrick T Murphy on the positive potential of the new social media.


In the following article, which first appeared on the blogspot "Loving the Church," Fr Patrick Murphy, LC, builds on the Holy Father´s recommendation to make the most of the social media´s potential for good.


By now we have all heard that Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged Catholics, including priests, laity and consecrated people, to make use of the new means of social communication and social networking to evangelize and offer the gift of our Faith to others. In brief to help us fulfill our mission to be salt of the earth and light of the world. Here are six motives for doing so (with excerpts from the Holy Father’s message on the 45th World Day of Social Communications, Jan 24, 2011):

1. Ready access to truth. Love for truth is embedded in our DNA (so to speak). Social media broadens the world’s access to the Gospel. The search can take place in transit, in meetings, visiting family or alone.

The new technologies are not only changing the way we communicate, but communication itself… As with every other fruit of human ingenuity, the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity.

2. Greater dialogue and personal interaction. Social networking is conversational, as opposed to using passive, one-sided sources of information. Teaching has become a form of exchange, rather than simply a classroom log-in.

The clear distinction between the producer and consumer of information is relativized and communication appears not only as an exchange of data, but also as a form of sharing. This dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations.

3. Youth find authentic models and mentors. The new media offer direct contact with trustworthy Christians and people of character, eliminating possible layers of deception, which can lead to confusion and unbelief among the young. Obviously the opposite can also be true. Here is where Catholics must become those mentors and help the youth to find other online models of Christian life.

Young people in particular are experiencing this change in communication, with all the anxieties, challenges and creativity typical of those open with enthusiasm and curiosity to new experiences in life…Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others…

4. We are challenged to live authentic Christian lives. Coming to know certain anti-Christian lifestyles can often display inconsistency and façade effectively. Christian testimony via the new technologies, on the other hand, can inspire and encourage faithfulness.

Their ever greater involvement in the public digital forum, created by the so-called social networks, helps to establish new forms of interpersonal relations, influences self-awareness and therefore inevitably poses questions not only of how to act properly, but also about the authenticity of one’s own being.

5. We are prompted to live the law of the gift. Behind every opinion is a person. In social networking you come in contact with family members, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, etc., precisely as persons who comment, rate and review. We are called to influence one another for the better.

…the dynamic inherent in the social networks demonstrates that a person is always involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals.

6. New media broadens our horizons.

The new technologies allow people to meet each other beyond the confines of space and of their own culture, creating in this way an entirely new world of potential friendships.

“Go out to the whole world and preach the Gospel” our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed. Today we have new tools to do so.



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