HOLY FATHER ENCOURAGES CHURCH TO EMBRACE INTERNET CREATIVELY
On Friday, I March, the Holy Father addressed the members of the
Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Archbishop Foley introduced the members, consultors, experts and staff
of the Council, the theme of the Plenary, the Media and the New
Evangelization with plans for the future, the two documents on the
Internet and the generous funding by the Knights of Columbus for the
telecast of the Day of Prayer in Assisi that helped to get it carried by
over 34 networks in 24 countries. Archbishop Foley also mentioned the
generous support by the Knights of the telecast of the Christmas
Midnight Mass and the Message "Urbi et Orbi" by 67 networks in
47 countries. In his address, the Holy Father urged the Council to
continue its evangelization of the media. "For the Church, the
adventure is to bring the truth of Christ to bear upon this new world,
with all its promise and all its searching and questioning. This will
especially involve the promotion of a genuinely human ethic which
can build communion rather than alienation between individuals (cf. Novo
Millennio Ineunte, n. 43), and solidarity rather than enmity between
peoples". The Pope also encouraged the media: "I urge you, in
all your planning, to make room for Christ. In the print media,
in radio and television, in the world of cinema and the Internet, seek
to open doors to him who so mercifully is the door of salvation for us.
Then the mass media will be a world of genuine communication, a world
not of illusion but of truth and joy".…
See the two documents of the Council:
The Church and Internet and
Ethics in Internet
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. From the five continents you have come once more to Rome for the
Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I
thank Archbishop John Foley for his gracious words and for the
leadership he has given as President of the Council, with the able
cooperation of Bishop Pierfranco Pastore. I wish to take this
opportunity to thank the Council as a whole for the help you continue
to offer me in my apostolic ministry. In today's world, how is the
Successor of Peter to accomplish his mission of preaching the Gospel and
strengthening his brothers and sisters in the faith if not also through
the media of social communication? I am deeply conscious of this, and
therefore most grateful to you and to groups like the Knights of
Columbus who generously support your work.
The media and the new evangelization: concrete plans for the future
2. I welcome the theme which you have chosen for this Plenary
Meeting: "The Media and the New Evangelization: Current Activities
and Plans for the Future". For it is essential that we see our
engagement with the world of the media as a vital part of that new
evangelization to which the Holy Spirit is now summoning the Church
throughout the world. As I stressed in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio
Ineunte, we must devise "a detailed pastoral plan ... which
will enable the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mould
communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel
values to bear in society and culture" (n. 29). It is not enough to
wait for things to happen or to act in a random way: now is the time
for concrete and effective planning of the kind you are undertaking
at this Plenary Meeting. The special challenge before you is to find
ways to ensure that the voice of the Church is not marginalized or
silenced in the modern arena of the media. You have a role to play in
ensuring that the Gospel is not confined to a strictly private world.
No! Jesus Christ must be proclaimed to the world; and
therefore the Church must enter the great forum of the media with
courage and confidence.
Evangelize the media: provide the Church with Inspiration and Ideas
3. Not only must we use the media to communicate Christ to the world,
but we must preach the Gospel to the world of the media itself. What I
have said elsewhere of the Internet is true of the media as a whole: it
is "a new 'forum' understood in the ancient Roman sense of ... a
crowded and bustling urban space, which both reflected the surrounding
culture and created a culture of its own" (Message for World
Communications Day 2002, n. 2). This media culture must
itself be evangelized! And you are called to provide the Church with
inspiration and ideas for that great work, drawing upon the highest
standards of professionalism and the deepest resources of the Christian
faith and Catholic tradition.
This is a task to which the Pontifical Council has given itself with
great energy. During this Plenary Meeting, for instance, you will
publish two important documents which have been in preparation for some
years: "Ethics in the Internet" and "The Church and the
Internet". These are signs not only of your professional
creativity, but of your commitment to preach the Good News in the
fast-moving world of social communications.
A genuinely human ethic will foster communion around the person of
Christ and thwart alienation
4. The Gospel lives always in conversation with culture, for the
Eternal Word never ceases to be present to the Church and to humanity. If
the Church holds back from culture, the Gospel itself falls silent.
Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold of the
communications and information revolution now taking place. "Like
the new frontiers of other times, this one too is full of the interplay
of danger and promise, and not without the sense of adventure which
marked other great periods of change" (ibid.). For
the Church, the adventure is to bring the truth of Christ to bear upon
this new world, with all its promise and all its searching and
questioning. This will especially involve the promotion of a
genuinely human ethic which can build communion rather than
alienation between individuals (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, n.
43), and solidarity rather than enmity between peoples.
However, the fundamental question is this: "From this galaxy of
sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ
be heard?" (Message for World Communications Day 2002, n.
6). For in all our planning, we can never forget that Christ is the
Good News! We have nothing to offer but Jesus, the one mediator
between God and man (cf. I Tm 2,5). To evangelize is simply to enable
him to be seen and heard, for we know that if there is no room for
Christ, there is no room for man.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, I urge you, in all your
planning, to make room for Christ. In the print media, in
radio and television, in the world of cinema and the Internet, seek to
open doors to him who so mercifully is the door of salvation for us.
Then the mass media will be a world of genuine communication, a world
not of illusion but of truth and joy. I pray fervently that this will be
so, and I entrust your work to Mary, Mother of the Word made flesh. I
gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to all involved in the work of the
Pontifical council, as a pledge of Christ's presence among you and his
Power upon all that you do in his name.