Pope Urges Respect, Honest Dialogue In Social Media Networks With New Communications Day Message

January 24, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—In his message for the47th World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI continues a theme of offeringencouragement for Catholics to engage in new media. Written to highlight theCatholic Church's 2013 World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on May12 in the United States, the message is titled "Social Networks: portals oftruth and faith; new spaces for evangelization."

Social networks are the "new 'agora,'" the pope writes, "an openpublic square" where "new relationships and forms of community can come intobeing." As such, they offer new ways for Christians to introduce the faith toothers, as long as they are savvy to the medium.

"The digital environment is not aparallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of manypeople, especially the young," said Pope Benedict. "Social networks are theresult of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamicsof communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of thisenvironment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there."

He encourages members of social medianetworks to consider using more than words in their interaction on thenetworks. "Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involvethe imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounterwith the mystery of God's love," he writes.

He also cautions Christians not toget caught up in the rapid and sometimes volatile exchanges that happen withinsocial media networks. "We are called to attentive discernment," he said,especially in digital networks, "where it is easy for heated and divisivevoices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail."

The entire message is available onthe Vatican website at http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/30352.php?index=30352"&po_date=24.01.2013"&lang=en#

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Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, social media, PontificalCouncil for Social Communications, World Communications Day, Vatican, virtualworld, digital networks, social network, new agora

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