.- Pope Benedict XVI will release a message in January 2013 that will examine the promise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter as “new spaces of evangelization” and “portals of truth and faith.”
The Pontifical Council of Social Communications announced on Sept. 29 that the Pope chose social networks as the theme of the Catholic Church’s next World Communications Day.
The pontifical council noted the need to be “attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of the social networks, which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships.”
The council asked whether technology can help men and women “meet Christ in faith” at a time when technology has become “part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences.”
The Pope’s message comes after a decade-long boom in internet social media. Facebook, currently one of the largest social networking sites, claims 800 million active users.
Although World Communications Day is observed on the Sunday before Pentecost, which in 2013 will fall on May 12, the Pope typically publishes his message for the observance on the Jan. 24 Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers.
The social communications council said the “digital environment” poses “one of the most important challenges facing the task of evangelization today.”
It stressed the necessity of learning how to present the Gospel “as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith.”
This approach requires “a new way of thinking” that not only considers how to use the internet as a means of evangelization, but considers how to evangelize “in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena.”
Bringing evangelization to social networks, the council said, will “serve to create a more dynamic and humane digital world.”
The Second Vatican Council’s 1963 decree “Inter Mirifica” called for the establishment of World Communications Day. The decree said the observance is intended to help teach the Catholic faithful how to “spread and defend the truth and foster Christian influence in human society.”