Pope Francis approves of the Internet as a precious “gift from God,” for its efficiency in facilitating communication, in a released statement yesterday. With this statement, he also warns Internet users that the Internet and social media obsession may cause isolation from their families and friends. Which in turn would be an ironic case of being disconnected because of too much effort to stay connected.
In a message that tackles Catholic Church communications, Pope Francis raised awareness through contemplating on the pros and cons of using the World Wide Web in reaching out to people in different parts of the world for intellectual and spiritual exchanges. The Internet provides opportunities and exposure to connect people with different culture and faith.
While Catholics are expected to take the conservative side in most cases, the Pope warned the members of the Catholic Church about arrogance and how it is never just to claim absolute ownership of the truth.
Francis emphasized on the essence of a dialogue which is exchanging thoughts, feelings, and knowledge with another party in expectation that one will gain as much knowledge as he or she will share through the interchange. He believes that dialogue is a mutual knowledge that the other party has something to share that is worth listening or reading about. Francis expressed that he is not suggesting that the members of the Catholic Church turn their backs on what they believe in but turn their backs on believing that no one can ever be right except for them.
While Pope Benedict XVI believes in active participation in inter-religious discussions, Francis takes the path less traveled as he takes an open-minded and respectful approach in his statements and sermons. In one of his homilies, he even articulated that even Atheists have a chance to salvation. Conservative Catholics raised an eyebrow in one of his radical actions which was washing two Muslims as a reenactment of what Jesus Christ did to his apostles.
This statement was dismissed by Archbishop Claudio Mario Celli, Vatican’s Social Communications Office Head, as a mere reflection of the Pope himself and not an official statement of the Catholic Church. However, he admitted that Pope Francis is definitely “shaking up” things just like the way Pope John XXIII when he launched the Second Vatican Council. He also acknowledged the sense of discomfort and unfamiliarity with how Pope Francis acts and speaks. He calls on everyone to try to reconnect with the Pope’s messages.
In the same message, Pope Francis highlighted the immense potential of the Internet in bringing about solidarity all over the world.
“A balm” which is made to relieve people’s pain and “a fine wine” that leaves people’s hearts glad – these are how the Pope described the Internet, how he hopes it to be. He calls on the Catholic Church to reach out to people on the other side of the world with open minds and open hearts and not to participate in bombarding each other with nothing else but Christian dogma.
The Pope wished that people would create light not through cosmetics and special effects but with love and mercy for those who need these most.