VATICAN CITY – Amid the deluge of information and non-stop chatter in today’s media, the Church needs to help people find safe havens of silence, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Far from being the enemy of calm and quiet, social media and the Internet can lead people to virtual sanctuaries that offer silent reflection, thoughtful dialogue and true meaning in life, he said.
“Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God,” he said in his message for the 2012 celebration of World Communications Day.
Even brief posts and viral tweets can carry potent messages when people use those tools – not for spamming or for scanning the latest gossip – but for sharing a real part of themselves, he said.
“In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives,” he said.
The theme of this year’s World Communications Day – marked in most dioceses on May 20 this year – is Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation.
In his message, the pope acknowledged that “silence is often overlooked”, but is especially important today.
Silence, words, images and sounds need “a kind of eco-system”, that is, to find a harmonious, symbiotic balance “if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved”.
Moments of quiet and calm allow people to sift through, process and evaluate the information they’re bombarded with, figure out what is important or secondary, discover connections and “share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge”, the pope said.
He underlined the importance of digital media – a theme he has championed in his three previous Communications Day messages.
Search engines and social networks aid people in their innate thirst for answers and the truth, he said.
Because many people launch queries online about the deepest meanings of life, it is important for the Church “to affirm those who ask these questions and open up the possibility of a profound dialogue, by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection”.
He said that language fails to encompass and truly communicate God’s grandeur. The extent of his love, power and mercy sink in with silent contemplation, and from that awe-inspiring awareness springs forth “the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation” to share Christ and His word with others, he said. n CNS
The pope’s message is available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/communications/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20120124_46th-world-communications-day_en.html