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Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God'

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 23 Jan 2014 13:48 User comments (20)

Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God' Pope Francis has said today in a statement that the Internet is "a gift from God" and that the net offers "immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity."
As part of the 48th annual World Communications Day, the pontiff released a statement in which he discussed both the pros and cons of the digital age, the sharing of ideas and information, social media and the Internet in general.

The statement in its entirety:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are living in a world which is growing ever "smaller" and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family. On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows. We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.

In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.

This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.

While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement. What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us. People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions. We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.

How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe a communicator once asked Jesus: "And who is my neighbour?" (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of "neighbourliness". We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be "neighbourly" in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as "neighbourliness".

Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road. The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbour, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance. In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response. Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbour.

It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply "connected"; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness. The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people. The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others. Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator. Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.

As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those "streets" are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.

Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available 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" (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013). We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate, who died and rose to free us from sin and death. We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert. To dialogue means to believe that the "other" has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.

May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration. Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful "neighbours" to those wounded and left on the side of the road. Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2014, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.

Tags: Pope Francis
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20 user comments

123.1.2014 15:59

the internet is not a gift from god but a gift from man that most have to pay for.

223.1.2014 16:04

God is going to be miffed when He hears that net neutrality is being auctioned off by the same politicians who passed a law making it legal to bribe them during election campaigns.

323.1.2014 16:41

I have to say this is kinda kewl but will the rest of religion move forward as well :)

423.1.2014 16:47

I thought the internet was a gift from Al Gore :-)

I actually like Pope Francis......He's not afraid to put the so-called "Christian Conservatives" in their evil place.

523.1.2014 23:18

Thank you God... For instant sports scores, movie and music downloading, you tube, free email, amazon.com ( so we don't have to leave our homes) , and all the FREE PORN you can consume!!!

AMEN!!!!

So is " god gave us the internet" a good defense against the music and film industry when the torrent lawsuits come??

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Jan 2014 @ 23:19

624.1.2014 4:31

Originally posted by ivymike:
I thought the internet was a gift from Al Gore :-) .
I think in Al's mind he is god (simply a problem with any politician not just Al) and thus indirectly gave us the internet, so he wasn't lying too much, just stretching the truth a little :).


724.1.2014 11:16

ah the old thank god.
i had mormans try and tell me my house was designed by god i stood there and told them no it was man that made the blue prints and build the house, they said the idea came from god again i told no the idea came from man.
god didn't create the internet,he didn't create anything.
people created the internet,people created religion,people created god.

the age old question what came first "people or god" , "god created people", "peoples were around before gods existant became known".which came first lol.


custom built gaming pc from early 2010,ps2 with 15 games all original,ps3 500gbs with 5 games all original,yamaha amp and 5.1channel surround sound speakers,46inch sony lcd smart tv.

824.1.2014 14:19

I respect this Pope far more than any of his predecessors (though still haven't forgotten or forgiven the Catholic autocracy for its persecution of Galileo or the Inquisition), but completely disagree with his assertion. At best, the human intelligence which enabled creation of the Internet might be considered a gift from God by the spark of life working through an exceedingly long and rather unforgivingly harsh sequence of natural trial-and-error selection processes (aka evolution), but definitely not something which could be posited as corresponding to the "Ten Commandments v2.0" or anything similar.

924.1.2014 15:27

xboxdvl2


I always point to cave painting as, basically, the final nail in the coffin on the existence of gods.


If a god or gods created us, why is there no such evidence on cave walls painted by ancient human beings? Simple, the concepts of gods could not be created until human beings had evolved minds capable of creating them in the first place.


This comment from the Vatican reminds me of the Virtual Pope I created 20 years when I was in college, which was Catholic, of course. :) I came up with the idea of virtual confessions. You just log on to Virtual Pope 2.0 or whatever version it's at now and confess your sins. After all, it's as effective as if you had a human analog in there intervening with your confessed sins.


So, I have wonder 20 years on: is there a Virtual Pope online now? Can you confess by remote control, as was said in Short Circuit 2? Are there virtual confessions now?

1024.1.2014 16:15

Excellent. Looks like the Roman Catholic Church is looking to invest. Next they will offer free emails to God. Looks like another way to raise money has occurred to the church elders (sic)

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 24 Jan 2014 @ 16:16

1124.1.2014 23:12

Originally posted by SomeBozo:
Originally posted by ivymike:
I thought the internet was a gift from Al Gore :-) .
I think in Al's mind he is god (simply a problem with any politician not just Al) and thus indirectly gave us the internet, so he wasn't lying too much, just stretching the truth a little :).



Not even stretching the truth. Al Gore said he took the initiative in the creation of the Internet, which is true...he championed it's creation in Congress. It was the conservative pundits and media who twisted that to "invented the Internet."

1225.1.2014 11:42

And all this time I was under the foolish illusion that it was an invention by man... thanks Popey!


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


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1326.1.2014 19:31

Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by SomeBozo:
Originally posted by ivymike:
I thought the internet was a gift from Al Gore :-) .
I think in Al's mind he is god (simply a problem with any politician not just Al) and thus indirectly gave us the internet, so he wasn't lying too much, just stretching the truth a little :).



Not even stretching the truth. Al Gore said he took the initiative in the creation of the Internet, which is true...he championed it's creation in Congress. It was the conservative pundits and media who twisted that to "invented the Internet."
I finally got off my lazy butt and decided to research and see if Gore did invent the internet.... First off i'm starting from the impression ARPANET is the first, be it rough design, of what turned into what is now the internet. I would be the first to agree Gore invented nothing as far as the technological side for the internet, what he did do was help pioneer legislation for funding work associated to make the net what it is today.

So i might be less critical if i heard Gore assisted the internet by pioneering/leading support for it on capitol hill and leave it at that... But to say he invented it is completely wrong.

1426.1.2014 21:01

What idiot would believe or even consider that Al Gore literally invented the internet... or would even think that he thought that? It's just part of a lameass ideologue putdown that their lockstep sheep fell into bleeting rather than focusing on reality.

It's like the wing-nut dolts that think the Nazis were pro-Communist.... astounding wilful ignorance.



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This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Jan 2014 @ 21:02

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

1527.1.2014 7:01

Originally posted by SomeBozo:
Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by SomeBozo:
Originally posted by ivymike:
I thought the internet was a gift from Al Gore :-) .
I think in Al's mind he is god (simply a problem with any politician not just Al) and thus indirectly gave us the internet, so he wasn't lying too much, just stretching the truth a little :).



Not even stretching the truth. Al Gore said he took the initiative in the creation of the Internet, which is true...he championed it's creation in Congress. It was the conservative pundits and media who twisted that to "invented the Internet."
I finally got off my lazy butt and decided to research and see if Gore did invent the internet.... First off i'm starting from the impression ARPANET is the first, be it rough design, of what turned into what is now the internet. I would be the first to agree Gore invented nothing as far as the technological side for the internet, what he did do was help pioneer legislation for funding work associated to make the net what it is today.

So i might be less critical if i heard Gore assisted the internet by pioneering/leading support for it on capitol hill and leave it at that... But to say he invented it is completely wrong.

Exactly! Conservatives CLAIMED he said that to make him look bad...and succeeded spreading that BS to other media outlets, making it as widely believed as it is.

1627.1.2014 7:14

without doing any research i know that programmers and tech minded people made the internet what it is today, Usa Government just made it easier to access and helped expand it.

from what i can recall from my past research is that networks were set up to send messages from 1 place to another (think military were first to use it) it expended into what is now known as the internet.I do recalled in 1997 m8s were checking bulletin boards to find cheats for streetfighter 2 on supernintendo.


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1727.1.2014 11:07

No, a couple of universities set it up initially... sheesh.

It was meant to survive a nuclear attack (it doesn't).


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

1827.1.2014 15:44

LoL...while I don't believe that god made the internet (or anything else for that matter), it is nice to see the church updating to the 1990's in at least one area. However, the rest of his speech sounded like it was written by Karl Marx. The church really loves that it can spread it's own message, and really hates that anyone else can do the same...kinda like most governments.



1928.1.2014 1:28

Humph... it's said the Soviets modelled themselves after the structure of the Catholic Church.

What part of his speech sounded like it was written by Karl Marx? Was there a critique of capitalism? Marx surprisingly actually said f*** all about Communism... never gave any concrete ideas as to what it should be, or how.




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This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Jan 2014 @ 1:29

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

2028.1.2014 1:41

I don't think he meant that gods invented the internet, rather that the ability to share and communicate so quickly and easily is a very good thing and worthy of being thankful for. It's like when people thank their god for a meal, they don't think there are gods and spirits mixing sauces in the kitchen, they're just being thankful for the ability to not go hungry. . . . or at least that's how I saw it.

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