TRUTH, PROCLAMATION AND AUTHENTICITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the forty-fifth World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated on 5 June and has as its theme: "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age". The Message is dated 24 January, Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.
Excerpts from the English-language version of the Message are given below:
"New technologies are not only changing the way we communicate, but communication itself, so much so that it could be said that we are living through a period of vast cultural transformation. This means of spreading information and knowledge is giving birth to a new way of learning and thinking, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.
"New horizons are now open that were until recently unimaginable; they stir our wonder at the possibilities offered by these new media and, at the same time, urgently demand a serious reflection on the significance of communication in the digital age. This is particularly evident when we are confronted with the extraordinary potential of the internet and the complexity of its uses. 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. If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.
"In the digital world, transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. The clear distinction between the producer and consumer of information is relativised and communication appears not only as an exchange of data, but also as a form of sharing. ... On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one's interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence".
"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. .... In the search for sharing, for 'friends', there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.
"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. This is a great opportunity, but it also requires greater attention to and awareness of possible risks. Who is my 'neighbour' in this new world? Does the danger exist that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life? Is there is a risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world 'other' than the one in which we live? Do we have time to reflect critically on our choices and to foster human relationships which are truly deep and lasting? It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives".
"To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one's own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it.".
"We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction.
"The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response. Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!
"I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life. The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God".
"The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when He joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus".
"In the final analysis, the truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks. Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalises people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolise the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. It is precisely this uniquely human spiritual yearning which inspires our quest for truth and for communion and which impels us to communicate with integrity and honesty.
"I invite young people above all to make good use of their presence in the digital world. I repeat my invitation to them for the next World Youth Day in Madrid, where the new technologies are contributing greatly to the preparations".
ANGELUS: SEEKING THE FULL UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below.
In his remarks he reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place annually from 18 to 25 January and the theme of which this year is drawn from the Acts of the Apostles: "one in the Apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer". The Pope pointed out that "it is highly significant that this theme should have been proposed by the Churches and Christian communities of Jerusalem, meeting in ecumenical spirit. We know how many trials our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and the Middle East have to face. Their service is ... strengthened by a witness which, in some cases, even goes so far as the sacrifice of their lives. And so, while we joyfully welcome the points for reflection suggested by the communities living in Jerusalem, we gather close around them and this becomes another factor of communion for us all.
"Today too", he added, "in order to live in the world as a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of unity among men, we Christians must base our lives on these four pillars: life founded on the faith of the Apostles transmitted through the living Tradition of the Church, fraternal communion, the Eucharist and prayer. Only in this way, remaining firmly united to Christ, can the Church carry out her mission effectively, despite the limits and shortcomings of her members, despite her divisions".
The Holy Father then went on to refer to this Sunday's Gospel reading in which St. Paul, concerned about disagreements in the Christian community of Corinth, poses the question: "Has Christ been divided?" By saying this, the Pope explained, the Apostle is affirming that "any division in the Church is an offence to Christ. At the same time he is saying that it is in Christ, the one Head and Lord, that we can become united by the endless power of His grace".
"A serious commitment to convert to Christ is the way that leads the Church - at a time that God will decide - to full visible unity. One sign of this are the ecumenical meetings taking place throughout the world over these days", he concluded.
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, who have come to Rome for the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Addressing the group in German, the Holy Father recalled how dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans began fifty years ago and how, despite the fact that theological differences persist in certain fundamental fields, great progress has been made towards unity, and the foundations laid for a spirituality and communion experienced in the faith.
At the present time, the Pope remarked, some people feel that the goal of full and visible unity among Christians seems to be getting further away. In this context he noted that he shared the concern of many Christians that the fruits of ecumenical efforts are not sufficiently visible. Nonetheless, he went on, ecumenical dialogue under the guidance of the Holy Spirit continues to be a fundamental instrument for overcoming obstacles, and he reaffirmed the important contribution of theological debate to help understand outstanding questions.
Benedict XVI also spoke of the need for a shared position on questions concerning the defence and dignity of human beings, and on the great issues that regard the family, marriage and sexuality.
Finally, he pointed out that 2017 will mark the five-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther's 'Theses', which gave rise to the division between Catholics and Lutherans. In this context, he insisted that for both sides the commemoration should be characterised not by triumphalism but by an ecumenism which highlights the shared faith in the One and Triune God. That date will also be an opportunity to reflect on the causes of division and to undertake a purification of heart. At the same time, the Pope continued, it will be an occasion to evaluate the 1500 years that preceded the Reform, the patrimony of which is shared by both Catholics and Lutherans.
The Holy Father concluded by calling for prayers to the Holy Spirit for help in continuing the journey towards unity, without resting on the laurels of what has already been achieved.
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a telegram of condolence to Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, for the death of Tullia Zevi, author, journalist and former president of the Union, who died on Saturday at the age of 91.
"Having learned the news of the death of Tullia Zevi", the telegram reads, "the Supreme Pontiff spiritually participates in the mourning of her relatives and of the Jewish communities in Italy. He gives assurances of his prayers and recalls her exalted moral profile and authoritative contribution to the development of values of democracy, peace and freedom in Italian society, and to sincere and profound dialogue between Jews and Christians".
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the Message for the forty-fifth World Day of Social Communications was presented. Its theme this year is: "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age".
Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, Msgr. Paul Tighe, Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti and Angelo Scelzo, respectively president, secretary, adjunct secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Archbishop Celli affirmed that "this year's Message has its starting point in a reality that is becoming increasingly evident today: the fact that an authentic cultural transformation is taking place as new technologies alter not only the way we communicate, but communication itself".
"The new technologies", he continued, "offer mankind great opportunities to come together, overcoming the limitations of distance and of culture of origin. They create the possibility to form new friendships, despite the inevitable risks".
"The new relational opportunities offered by modern technology highlight how today it is possible not only to exchange information, but to share a world view, to share hopes and ideals", the archbishop said.
"The Pope links three human aspects which are very important in modern life: digital communications, image of self and coherence of life. Communicational dynamics in the digital world create new ways to construct personal identity, and its is here that the Holy Father makes a call for coherence and authenticity".
The Message, Archbishop Celli concluded, "speaks of a 'Christian way' of being present" in the digital world. "This is what makes the title of the Message meaningful, in the sense that the Christian testimony of Catholic professionals cannot be limited to simply dealing with religious topics, but is called to reveal itself in the form of concrete personal witness. Living a life that conforms to the Gospel is itself a form of proclamation, an explicit form of communication which makes the proclamation credible. More than ever, the requirement of making the Gospel known in all its integrity must become a distinctive sign of the digital age".
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The following English-language communique was released at midday today:
"From 16 to 22 January a colloquium was held at St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore, India, in which a delegation from the Holy See met with twenty-eight members of the Bishops' Conference of India and twenty-six theologians from various parts of the country. The delegation of the Holy See was led by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, assisted by Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the congregation, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, promoter of justice, and three officials.
"The members of the Indian episcopate who participated in the colloquium represented the three Ritual 'sui iuris' Churches in India, led by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India".
"In the first part of the colloquium, theologians addressed questions such as the specific role of the theologian in the Church, theological methodology in the East and in the West, inculturation, Jesus Christ as the one Saviour of all people, the relationship between the Church of Christ and other religions, the Christian concept of authentic human liberation, the role of the faith community (the 'sensus fideliu,'), and the distinctiveness of Christian prayer and spirituality".
"The second part of the colloquium was organised for bishops and the representatives of the Holy See. These days were devoted to various questions relating to the specific role and responsibility of bishops in the Church, such as the bishop as teacher of the faith, the functioning of the Doctrinal Commission of the Bishops' Conference, the formation of future priests and members of religious congregations, and the correct adjudication of the more serious canonical delicts".
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
On Saturday 22 January he received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
- Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Mate Uzinic of the clergy of the archdiocese of Split-Makarska, Croatia, rector of the major seminary, as bishop of Dubrovnik (area 1,368, population 87,300, Catholics 76,800, priests 85, religious 247), Croatia. The bishop-elect was born in Dubrava, Croatia in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1993.
- Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid, auxiliary of Medellin, Colombia, as bishop of Malaga-Soata (area 7,466, population 177,600, Catholics 167,500, priests 63, religious 87), Colombia.
- Bishop Robert Francis Vasa of Baker, U.S.A., as coadjutor bishop of Santa Rosa in California (area 30,320, population 898,000, Catholics 167,945, priests 101, permanent deacons 35, religious 87), U.S.A.
On Saturday 22 January it was made public that he appointed Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello, apostolic nuncio, as vice chamberlain of Holy Roman Church for a period of three years.