Catholic Church leaders must learn to understand and to speak in the “new language” of mass media and “digital culture” while recognizing the challenges they pose for faith and theology, Pope Benedict XVI said Feb. 28.
“(I)t is not just a question of expressing the Gospel message in modern language, but also of having the courage to give more profound consideration … to the relationship between the faith, the life of the Church and the transformations mankind is experiencing,” the Pope remarked this past Monday.
He addressed participants in the full assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications who are meeting to reflect on language and new technology.
Pope Benedict noted the risks that accompany the “new languages” of digital communications: the “loss of inner depth,” superficiality in relationships, the “flight into emotionalism,” and the ability of the most convincing opinion to dominate the desire for truth.
Cultural ideas have more than a verbal sense, he noted. The new ways of communicating are “more intuitive and emotional than analytical” and tend towards a different logical organization and a different relationship with reality.
The digital culture, the Pope said, makes it more difficult for people to “speak and listen to a symbolic language of transcendence.” Christians are called to discover in this culture “symbols and significant metaphors which may be of help in speaking of the Kingdom of God to modern man.”
Christian believers’ contributions, he noted, can be useful to mass media by opening “horizons of meaning and value which digital culture alone is incapable of seeing or representing.”
Pope Benedict said an appeal to “spiritual values” will help promote a “truly human” form of communication that surpasses the “facile enthusiasm or skepticism” of the digital world because it responds to the call imprinted into human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God.