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Top ten quotes from Pope Francis’ first WCD message about social media
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Pope Francis today released his first message for World Communications Day (WCD). While we mark WCD on June 1 this year, the WCD message is typically released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists and writers.
The theme for Pope Francis’ message is “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter.” All communication, including social media, can lead to genuine encounters between neighbors and, we hope, to genuine encounters with Christ, a person we know is real and present. We want to bring Christ to others, and help bring them to Christ in a mysterious, personal and unique way for them.
Pope Francis, similar to many of his other messages and homilies, has encouraged us to utilize social media to bring people who are far away - those that are on the peripheries - closer. He asks us to truly care for our neighbors as the Good Samaritan did in the parable, by taking responsibility for them. He challenges us to turn our social media “connections” into true “encounters.”
Here are ten of my favorite quotes:
1. “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.”
2. “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.”
3. “The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.”
4. “The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
5. “Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.”
6. “The digital highway is … 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.””
7. “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.”
8. “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.”
9. “Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others.”
10. “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.”
I encourage you to read the entire message for World Communications Day here. Then, let us do with Pope Francis has asked us to do: share his message in a way where we reach out as loving neighbors seeking to foster genuine encounters of our friends with each other and especially with the God who loves them immensely.
This article was originally published on the Blog for Catholic Voices USA.