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.
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.
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
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
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
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.