We had more wise and beautiful words from Pope Benedict this week regarding new media. I’m always impressed and humbled by how well this pope grasps these huge cultural factors, such as the Internet, without even really using the internet much himself. Of course, he has been experiencing its wrath more and more these days. But he has also been a huge proponent of nudging the Church into its proper use as well. Overall, his firm grasp of it all is a true testament to his - and the Church’s - fundamental understanding of the human person and social communication.
Pope Benedict told participants that the task of every believer who works in media, is to ensure the “quality of human contact, guaranteeing attention to people and their spiritual needs”. “This is increasingly urgent in today’s world”, he said, at a time when Internet appears to have a “basically egalitarian” vocation, but at the same time, “marks a new divide”, the “digital divide” that “separates the included from the excluded”[...]
Thus said the Pope we see, a “spiritual pollution” that brings us to no longer “look one another in the face”. So we must “overcome those collective dynamics that risk reducing people to “soulless bodies, objects of exchange and consumption”. The media must become a “humanizing factor”, focused “on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples”. Only then, will “the epochal times we are experiencing be rich and fertile in new opportunities”:
“Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication”. [Vatican Radio]
I especially like the emphasis on making the internet a “humanizing factor.” The internet by itself is powerful, but not good or bad. It is we who make it good or bad. And we can no more abandon it than we can the written word or the spoken language. We just have to work to make it good. We must make it a “humanizing factor,” not a dehumanizing one.
When each of us add our own personal contribution to the internet, in any small way and no matter how insignificant it may seem, does it build up the human person? Or does it tear down? Do we make our emails, status messages, wall posts, blog comments and web posts humanizing factors? Do you take your “believer’s heart” to the digital world?
We must be truly present here. Our loving presence can be the greatest humanizing factor. And when we bring the Holy Spirit with us, we can give the internet the soul it so desperately needs.