Archbishop Eamon Martin has warmly welcomed the content of Pope Francis’ message, published on the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, for World Communications Day 2019. This annual celebration will be marked on Ascension Sunday, 2 June. This year’s theme: ‘We are members one of another (Eph 4:25) From social network communities to the human community’ highlights the importance of the internet and social media as a resource, but also emphasises the risks that accompany it, in terms of the sharing of authentic information and the increase of cyberbullying among young people.
Archbishop Martin said, “This year’s message is particularly relevant in this era of social media and digital communications where we now live. I especially welcome the announcement by Pope Francis that an International Observatory for Cyberbullying Prevention will be established with its headquarters in the Vatican. Over the coming months, through our own Council for Communications, I hope to engage with experts in this field in Ireland to help to promote the constructive use of digital media in our society.”
Archbishop Martin continued, “our world is rich in communications resources and our era is often described as the age of ‘democratic journalism’. The ways by which we express ourselves have changed radically as we can now publish our ideas immediately, and on a multiplicity of platforms. There is great potential in social media to communicate the truth of the Gospel on the ‘digital highways’. It is important that we do so at all times with compassion and love. In the coming months, as we reflect on the message of Pope Francis, I encourage everyone to ‘put away falsehood and speak the truth’, both on digital media and in our daily lives.”
In his message today, Pope Francis tells us that, “the metaphor of the net recalls another meaningful image: the community”, but that at present, “social network communities are not automatically synonymous with community”. A community is one that thrives on mutual listening and dialogue. Pope Francis notes in particular that “young people are the ones most exposed to the illusion that the social web can completely satisfy them on a relational level. There is the dangerous phenomenon of young people becoming ‘social hermits’ who risk alienating themselves completely from society. This dramatic situation reveals a serious rupture in the relational fabric of society, one we cannot ignore.” He goes on to say that, “while governments seek legal ways to regulate the web and to protect the original vision of a free, open and secure network, we all have the possibility and the responsibility to promote its positive use.” Pope Francis suggests that a possible answer can be drawn from the words of Saint Paul, “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each to his neighbour, for we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25).
Read the full text of the Pope’s message for World Communications Day 2019 here.