Remember the human person in this age of the internet – world communications day

You may wonder why, in a post on the 45th World Communications Day marked yesterday, there is a picture of Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical Redemptor Hominis.

It set out the blessed Polish Pope’s Christian humanism; a humanism which always put the dignity of the human person first, and that was a central theme of Pope Benedict’s message for the day.

Last week, Fr Federico Lombardi warned against the dangers of a now all-pervasive internet and the relationships people construct there.

“”What kind of ‘friendships’ are we building online?” Is the network a place where we can convincingly and credibly give ‘testimony,’ or is it only an environment of noncommittal presences, fictitious profiles where we fail to admit the truth about ourselves?”

This sentiment was echoed yesterday by the Holy Father himself, in his special message for the occasion, speaking particularly about young people, he said:

“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. Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others, provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world. 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.”

You can read the full address here.

He also called on Christians to bear witness in this latest arena:

“In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment (cf. Eph 1:10). The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience.”

Let’s hope that these tools can be put at the service of what is good, remembering that our desire for relationships is a desire for communion, the communion which is ultimately found in Jesus. It is the mission of every Christian in every age to do what they can to make that communion a real possibility. To return to the redeemer of man:

“The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth.”

(Redemptor Hominis 13)

Of related interest:

DO675 Catholic Social Teaching – A Way In – The Common Good’, ‘option for the poor’ ‘subsidiarity’- concepts like these have become part of the currency of Catholic teaching, but what do they mean? What are their foundations in scripture and tradition which make them distinctively Catholic?
Global Warming – How should we respond? – Global warming is seen as the defining issue of our generation. Does the Church believe that it is really happening, and what should Catholics do to care for our planet?
Sollicitudo Rei Sociali – “There is a better understanding today that the mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority, is not enough for the realisation of human happiness,” wrote John Paul II on the twentieth anniversary of Paul VI’s revolutionary encyclical Populorum Progressio.

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