New forms of communication must be humanizing or they will increase “confusion and solitude” among their users, Pope Benedict XVI has said. The Church is not indifferent to these innovations but seeks to purify and use them “with critical sense.”
His comments came in a Nov. 13 audience at the Vatican with participants in the Pontifical Council for Culture’s four-day conference on the topic "Culture of communications and new languages."
This year's discussions were unique for their venue: Capitoline Hill, Rome’s historic center of culture, government and history.
The president of the council for culture, Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi, explained at a press conference that the choice of venue aimed to bring their work out of the Vatican and into the city among the people.
Discussions ranged from the effects of the internet on modern communications and interpersonal relations to the way people communicate through food.
In his audience with the participants, the Pope said that "speaking of communications and language means ... not only touching one of the crucial junctions of our world and its cultures, but for us believers, it means getting closer to the very mystery of God who, in his goodness and wisdom, wished to reveal himself and show his will to men."
He spoke of the "profound cultural transformation" taking place due to the great changes in forms of communication. The Church, he said, is not "indifferent" to these changes, but "on the contrary, seeks to avail itself with renewed creative commitment, but also with critical sense and attentive discernment, of new languages and ways of communication."
The Church wishes to enter into dialogue with all people in the world, he said. But, to reach people today, especially young people, it must "tune in" to the same frequency.
"Today not few young people, stunned by the infinite possibilities offered by information networks or by other technologies, establish forms of communication that do not contribute to growth in humanity, but risk rather to increase the sense of solitude and confusion," the pontiff warned.
He explained that education is needed to promote a "humanizing communication."
The Church can turn to the Gospel and Christian tradition to "guide, purify, clean and elevate" new forms of communications, he explained. "In particular the rich and dense symbolism of the liturgy must shine in all its force as a communicative element, until it touches the human conscience, the heart and the intellect profoundly."