Pope: cyberspace serves to promote respect and dialogue, not exploitation
In his message for World day for Social Communications, aimed in particular at young people. Benedict XVI speaks of digital communication as “a gift”, when reflected in love of God. The need to share progress with those in need and the danger of becoming isolated from the world. Internet as a means of evangelisation. The Vatican on You Tube.

Vatican (AsiaNews) – The success particularly among the young, of digital technology is the result of a human desire for communication and friendship that “must be read as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God”; and therefore a “gift”, that must promote a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship and for Catholics, an occasion to evangelise “the digital continent”. Benedict’s thoughts regarding internet and the digital generation of communication are highly positive, and contained in a message launched today for May’s celebration of the 43rd World Day for Social Communications; entitled “Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship". Which means, according to the Pope, sharing our technologies with populations in need and that these new instruments must not feed hatred and intolerance or promote human degradation, or economic exploitation.


Especially addressed to the so called “digital generation”, the message immediate affirms the “extraordinary potential of the new technologies”, “a real gift for humanity”, capable of “contributing to social progress” and that must be used to favour under standing and human solidarity, in short that the “benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable”.


In reality observes the Pope, “The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator”. In this light, it is important to focus on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means by those who use them “all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable”.


The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. But in order to bear fruits “The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance” and “We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth”.


The concept of friendship promoted by the new digital social networks “is one of the noblest achievements of human culture”. But on one hand we must “be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship”, and on the other on-line relationships must not impinge on relationships in real-life. “If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction”.


Instead it is “gratifying” to note the “emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation”. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between different cultures and that is why “it would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information”.


Finally, Benedict XVI launched a particular challenge to young Catholics to be witnesses of their faith in the digital world. He reminds them that, a sit was in the beginning of the Church, evangelisation demands “careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs” of the people you encounter.  “It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News’”.


And following on concretely from the words of the Pope, today the Vatican launched it’s own You Tube Channel:: http://it.youtube.com/vatican which shows video clips of Vatican news in English, Spanish, German and Italian.