Panama City. On the occasion of the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, on 24 January 2019 the message of Pope Francis was announced for the 53rd World Social Communications Day which has as its theme: “We are members of one another (Eph 4:25). From social network communities to the human community”.
The Message is very significant and current. It is a reflection that sheds light on the processes of digital contemporaneity that are so incarnated in people’s lives, “being by now indistinguishable from the sphere of everyday life”.
The net is a resource of our time. If the internet represents an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge, it is also true that it has proved to be one of the places most exposed to misinformation and the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit.
“The Net, therefore, can entrap, distorting humanity, and the image of the net invites us to reflect on the multiplicity of lines and intersections that ensure its stability in the absence of a center, a hierarchical structure, a form of vertical organization. The net works because all its elements share responsibility”. It works thanks to the participation of everyone, no one excluded. And it does not matter if you are young or adult, experienced or a person on the street.
“If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource”, affirms Francis.
The metaphor of the net recalls another meaningful image: the Community. A community is that much stronger if it is cohesive and supportive, if it is animated by feelings of trust, and pursues common objectives. The community as a network of solidarity requires mutual listening and dialogue, based on the responsible use of language, “being members of one another”. Only in this way can we make life beautiful and just, whether it is mediated by a technology or lived face to face.
So, how can we re-discover true community identity in the awareness of the responsibility we have towards one another even in the online network?
The Pope quotes St. Paul and his metaphor of the body and its members with which the Apostle “exhorts us to put aside lies and to speak the truth”. It is a truth that is revealed in communication and in the encounter with each other. Above all, it is Christ, perfect model of relationship and of closeness. The Pontiff explains, “God is not solitude but Communion: He is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates, communicates self to meet the other”.
As they are created in His image and likeness, each one can project their own communal identity, the desire for relationship, and openness to the other in the web and in his innumerable spaces.
“The present context calls on all of us to invest in relationships, and to affirm the interpersonal nature of our humanity, including in and through the network. All the more so, we Christians are called to manifest that communion which marks our identity as believers. Faith itself, in fact, is a relationship, an encounter; and under the impetus of God’s love, we can communicate, welcome and understand the gift of the other and respond to it.”
“I am truly human, truly personal, only if I relate to others”.
The Message provokes and entrusts to each of us important tasks: to break down cultural barriers and ideological temptations that often lead us to interpret the Web as the space of evil; identify the times, spaces, and modalities that can make the social web real educational, pastoral, and spiritual opportunities; help make “the Church herself a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on ‘likes’, but on the truth, on the ‘Amen’, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others”.
“This is the network we want, a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free”.
The World Day of Social Communications, the only World Day established by Vatican Council II (Conciliar Decree “Inter Mirifica” on the Communication Tools of 1963), is celebrated in many countries, on the recommendation of the Bishops, on the Sunday preceding Pentecost, this year on 2 June 2019.
The text of the Message for the Day of Social Communications of Pope Francis addressed mainly to journalists and information workers is traditionally published on January 24, on the occasion of the anniversary of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop Communicator, Patron of journalists.
Message-communications- social networks http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20190124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html