Pope Francis on the Christian presence in the mass media: walking at the same pace as your fellow pilgrim

Filed in Media by on September 23, 2013 1 Comment

stage microphone by bitchbuzz http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitchbuzz/4462806791/

There is so much talk about the digital world, connectivity and social media that we sometimes forget that ‘the mass media’ encompasses far more than the internet. The slightly starchy phrase ‘social communications’ is the term the Vatican has preferred to use for many decades to discuss the world of the mass media.

Pope Francis spoke last week to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and there are some thought-provoking ideas about the relation between the social and the personal, and what Christians must keep in mind as they use and inhabit the mass media.

We must ask ourselves: what role should the Church have in terms of its own practical means of communication? In every situation, beyond technological considerations, I believe that the goal is to understand how to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today, in order to appreciate their desires, their doubts, and their hopes. They are men and women who sometimes feel let down by a Christianity that to them appears sterile, struggling precisely to communicate the depth of meaning that faith gives.

We do in fact witness today, in the age of globalisation, a growing sense of disorientation and isolation; we see, increasingly, a loss of meaning to life, an inability to connect with a “home”, and a struggle to build meaningful relationships. It is therefore important to know how to dialogue, and how to enter, with discernment, into the environments created by new technologies, into social networks, in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses, and encourages.

Do not be afraid to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment. A Church that follows this path learns how to walk with everybody! And there’s also an ancient rule of the pilgrims, that Saint Ignatius includes, and that’s why I know it! In one of his rules, he says that anyone accompanying a pilgrim must walk at the same pace as the pilgrim, not ahead and not lagging behind. And this is what I mean: a Church that accompanies the journey, that knows how to walk as people walk today. This rule of the pilgrim will help us to inspire things.

He goes on to explain how the challenges for the Christian are not merely technological, they are about the kind of presence that we are taking, the witness we are giving.

We must ask ourselves: are we capable of bringing Christ into this area, or rather, of bringing about the encounter with Christ? To walk with the pilgrim through life, but as Jesus walked with the pilgrims of Emmaus, warming their hearts and leading them to the Lord? Are we capable of communicating the face of a Church which can be a “home” to everyone?

We talk about the Church behind closed doors. But this is more than a Church with open doors, it’s more! Finding “home” together, building “home”, building the Church. It’s this: building the Church as we walk. A challenge! To lead to the rediscovery, through means of social communication as well as by personal contact, of the beauty which is at the heart of our existence and our journey, the beauty of faith, the beauty of the encounter with Christ.

Even in the context of social communications, the Church is required to bring warmth, to warm hearts. Do our presence and plans measure up to this requirement, or do we remain mired in technicalities? We hold a precious treasure that is to be passed on, a treasure that brings light and hope. They are greatly needed.

All this, however, requires a careful and thorough formation in this area for priests, for religious men and women, for laity. The great digital continent does not only involve technology, but is made up of real men and women who bring with them what they carry inside, their hopes, their suffering, their concerns, their pursuit of truth, beauty, and good.

We need to show and bring Christ to others, sharing these joys and hopes, like Mary, who brought Christ to the hearts of men and women; we need to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way; we need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the illusions of many, without being seduced; we need to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathise with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity (cf. Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 27 July 2013, n. 4). This is the walk. This is the challenge.

[HT Brandon Vogt on Facebook]

Tags: , ,

About the Author ()

These unsigned articles are prepared by different members of the Jericho Tree team

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. It is so good that the Holy Father is willing to urge the Church to use the Internet and other means of communication to forward the message of the Gospel. Let us hope and pray that it helps our Church to stay ahead of the pace and bring more people to knowledge of and faith in Our Lord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: