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Pope Francis and the 53rd Day for Social Communications: from a ‘like’ to the Community to an ‘Amen’ to the Lord

For the Holy Father, "If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource." Moreover, "the network we want”, is “a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free." Beware of “disinformation and to the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit."

“If the Internet represents an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge, it is also true that it has proven to be one of the areas most exposed to disinformation and to the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit.” In his Message for the 53rd World Day of Social Communications titled «We are members one of another» (Eph 4:25). From social network communities to the human community”, the Holy Father guards against  the risks of the Internet. For the Holy Father, “If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource.” Moreover, “the network we want”, is “a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free.”:
“The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on ‘likes’, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.”“The Net is a resource of our time”, “It is a source of knowledge and relationships that were once unthinkable”, but it also carries “risks that threaten the search for, and sharing of, authentic information on a global scale”, states the Holy Father, recognizing “an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge” that Internet represents, as well as “one of the areas most exposed to disinformation and to the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit.” In fact while on the one hand social networks “help us to better connect, rediscover, and assist one another, on the other, lend themselves to the manipulation of personal data, aimed at obtaining political or economic advantages, without due respect for the person and his or her rights.” In this respect Francis reminds us that
“among young people one in four is involved in episodes of cyberbullying.”For the Pontiff, “the metaphor of the net recalls another meaningful image: the community. A community is that much stronger if it is cohesive and supportive, if it is animated by feelings of trust, and pursues common objectives. The community as a network of solidarity requires mutual listening and dialogue, based on the responsible use of language.” Moreover, “social network communities are not automatically synonymous with community” and “often they remain simply groups of individuals who recognize one another through common interests or concerns characterized by weak bonds.” “in the social web identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice (ethnic, sexual, religious and other). This tendency encourages groups that exclude diversity – Francis adds – that even in the digital environment nourish unbridled individualism which sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred.” In this way, what ought to be a window on the world becomes a showcase for exhibiting personal narcissism.” In this respect, “the Net is an opportunity to promote encounter with others, but it can also increase our self-isolation, like a web that can entrap us. 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.”

“By virtue of our being created in the image and likeness of God who is communion and communication-of-Self, we carry forever in our hearts the longing for living in communion, for belonging to a community”, Francis states: “The present context calls on all of us to invest in relationships, and to affirm the interpersonal nature of our humanity, including in and through the network. All the more so, we Christians are called to manifest that communion which marks our identity as believers.” “Faith itself, in fact, is a relationship, an encounter; and under the impetus of God’s love, we can communicate, welcome and understand the gift of the other and respond to it.”

“I am truly human, truly personal, only if I relate to others.

the word ‘person’ signifies the human being as a ‘face’, whose face is turned towards the other, who is engaged with others. Our life becomes more human insofar as its nature becomes less individual and more personal – concludes the Pope – we see this authentic path of becoming more human in one who moves from being an individual who perceives the other as a rival, to a person who recognizes others as travelling companions.”

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