.- After beginning in three Catholic dioceses of Italy, a campaign to give up text messages, social networking sites and computer games has spread to other parts in Italy.
The dioceses of Modena, Bari and Pesaro began the “stop texting for Lent” campaign, the Times of London reports. The effort echoes previous comments by Pope Benedict XVI on the isolating effects of technology.
In a January message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications, the Pope praised young people’s ability to link new media with their desire to be connected to others. He said they turn to this technology “as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions.”
By seeking out others, he added, “we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator.”
However, he warned against an “obsessive” desire for “virtual connectedness” which may isolate individuals from real social interaction and disrupt “patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.”
The disruptive pervasiveness of new communications has even reached into the Vatican. The London Times reports that President Sarkozy of France was criticized for checking his mobile phone for text messages during a personal audience with Pope Benedict.