Pope Francis has described the internet as “something truly good, a gift from God” in a message ahead of the 48th World Communications Day on 1 June.
The Pope described the present world as one of wonder – a world getting smaller through innovations in technology and transport bringing us closer together.
But he also said it was a world where a sizable divide has emerged between rich and poor – divisions that will cut deeply – a world where the opulence of the wealthy contrasts with the utter destitution of the poor.
In his speech, he said digital media and internet can be used as a force for good to close these divisions and inspire solidarity if people are prepared to listen and learn from one another.
“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God,” the Pope said.
“This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.
“The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”
The Pope on social media
Pope Francis also said social media also has a role to play, but a balance needs to be struck.
“The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings.
“The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us.
“We should not overlook the fact that those who, for whatever reason, lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human, rather than technological, achievement.”
Pope Francis image via Shutterstock