Unfortunately, hate speech and fake news are part of the daily lives of many people, and therefore it is essential to help young people in particular to “distinguish and learn truth from lies, and good from evil.” Pope Francis wrote this in a letter to the Signis Catholic Communications Association meeting, which will take place August 15-18 in Seoul.
Mario Galgano – Vatican City
In his written message published Monday morning, the Pope said that good communication is essential to promoting justice, social harmony and respect for the common home. Pope Francis added that in these days, “which have been marked by a new outbreak of violence and aggression”, peace must also be promoted in the digital world. He also notes that the “world of digital communications” is often a place of “toxins, hate speech and fake news”. Pope Francis entrusts the participants of the Signis World Congress, the world catholic association for communication, with a mission to be accomplished in the virtual world: “Communication of Love”. This could have “profound implications for today’s reality”.
The Pope explained that the meeting would not take place for a month, so he understood the message as a preparation for the talks from August 15 to 18 in Seoul, South Korea. In the letter, written in English, Francis wrote that South Korea is a country whose “history of evangelization shows the power of the printed word and the essential role of the lay faithful in spreading the gospel.” Reference is made to the earthly history of Saint Andrew Kim and his fellow martyrs 200 years ago: their history, Francis wished, “encourages you in your efforts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in the language of today’s media.”
Digital media, powerful tools for dialogue and community
This is a pledge not to be underestimated, says the Pope: “The digital media revolution of the past few decades has proven to be a powerful way to strengthen partnership and dialogue within our human family. During the months of the pandemic-induced lockdown, we have seen clearly how digital media can connect us, not only from By spreading vital information, but also by bridging loneliness and, in many cases, bringing families and entire groups together in prayer and worship.”
Serious ethical issues
At the same time, the use of digital media, particularly social media, has raised a number of “serious ethical questions” that “require intelligent and intelligent judgment on the part of communicators and everyone who cares about the authenticity and quality of human relationships.” In fact, “Internet sites have sometimes become sites of toxicity, hate speech and fake news,” wrote Pope Francis, who sees this as a real challenge. As a remedy, he recommends “media education, outreach to the Catholic media, and the fight against lies and disinformation.”
His Holiness affirms that these efforts, to which Tawasoul Cygnes is called, enjoy his full support. Francis calls for “helping people, especially young people, to develop a healthy critical sense, learning to distinguish truth from lies, right from wrong, good from evil, and the meaning of a commitment to justice, social harmony and respect for our common home.”
The Bishop of Rome also does not forget “the many societies in our world that are still excluded from digital space”: for them, too, we must roll up our sleeves and “make digital inclusion a priority” in order to “make a significant contribution to the dissemination of a culture of peace based on the truth of the Gospel.” “.
Listen to “Heart Ear”
At the end of the message, Pope Francis recalled his message for World Communication Day 2022, in which he described listening as “the first and indispensable part of dialogue and good communication”. Listen with “the ear of the heart”. It is precisely this “message of listening” that belongs to Catholic communicators, the Pope wrote: “Communication is in fact not merely a profession, but a service of dialogue and understanding between individuals and larger communities that seek a calm and peaceful coexistence.”
World Synod and Communications
Francis finally asserts that listening is also “necessary” for the upcoming universal synod for which the whole Church has been preparing for some time. To “listen to one another” and “grow in the awareness of being part of a community that precedes and includes us” is the Pope’s desire. In this way, he asserts, it will be possible to “create an increasingly ‘symphonic’ church, the unity of which is expressed in a harmonious and sacred polyphony.”