The Internet: A new forum for proclaiming the good news

Timor Post - Opinion · Technology
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Soares Pedro, SVD

By: Soares Pedro, SVD

(Parish Priest in Uatolari in the Municipality of Viqueqeu)

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In the Message for the World Communications Day 2002, Holy Father John Paul II emphatically said: “I firmly decide to invite the whole Church to boldly cross this new threshold, to pedal into the depths of this Network (Net), so that nowas in the past the interaction between the gospel and culture could show the world ‘the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2 Cor 4:6)”.

Clearly, the Holy Father John Paul II invites the entire Church to enter the virtual world, the world of networks, so that they can have more dialogue with culture and proclaim the face of Christ to the whole world.Meanwhile, Holy Father Francis also emphasized: “Don’t be afraid to be a citizen of the digital world.It is very important for the attention and presence of the Church in the world of communication to have a dialogue with today’s man to bring him to meet Christ”.

 A New Forum for Proclaiming

The development of the digital world, especially the internet, provides many opportunities for human life. The Holy Father John Paul II immediately saw the internet as a new tool for evangelism, the internet “provides excellent opportunities for evangelism, as long as it is based on competence and a clear awareness of the power of and weaknesses.” And the opportunity is first of all an opportunity to store and provide information related to matters of faith, it is even said that the internet can provide support that will lead people to meet Christ in the congregation. It says so: “On the Network there are vast sources of information, documentation and teaching about the Church, about its history and traditions, doctrines and involvement in all areas of life throughout the world.

Thus, it is clear that although the Internet will never be able to replace the deep experience of God, which can only be provided through the living liturgical and sacramental experience of the Church, it can certainly provide a unique substitute and support in preparing for an encounter with Christ in the congregation, and in support new members of the faith at the beginning of their journey of faith.” The internet as a source of information about matters of faith is seen in the emergence of websites such as katolicitas.org, which can be a place for people to learn about faith and interact with fellow believers.

This is an opportunity, for the gospel message to enter and penetrate the virtual world, a new world that is lived by today’s generation of children. More emphatically the Holy Father Francis said that by networking, the Church can become an open house for everyone: “Also thanks to networking, the Christian message can travel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Opening the doors of the church means opening them to enter the digital world, so that people can enter whatever their living conditions are, so that the gospel can leave the place of worship to meet everyone. We are called to introduce the Church as everyone’s home.

Are we able to present a Church with a face like this? Communication also gives shape to the missionary vocation of the entire Church, and social networks are one of the places where that vocation is manifested so that people experience the beauty of faith and the beauty of encountering one another. Christ. Even in the world of communication, a church is needed that is able to warm and inflame human hearts.”

 Evangelizing the Virtual World

Pope John Paul II through his encyclical Redemptoris Missio sees the new world of communication as a contemporary Areopagus that also requires evangelism: “The first Areopagus of the modern age is the world of communication, which fosters the unity of mankind by making it like a “big village”. Involvement in the media, even though thus, it is not only aimed at strengthening the proclamation of the Gospel. There is a much deeper reality here: Since the evangelization of modern culture itself depends to a large extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media to spread the Christian message and the authentic teachings of the Church. It is also necessary to integrate the news with the ‘new culture’ created by modern communication. This is a very complex matter because the ‘new culture’ emerges not only from the content conveyed, but also from the fact that there are new ways of communicating, with new languages, new techniques and new psychology.” Therefore, it is necessary to evangelize the new world and integrate the Christian message into the new world.

The world of the internet has always been a double-faced world. There are many positive elements that are useful in the development of living together, whether in building solidarity and solidarity, as well as friendship between humans. However, the communication pattern in the internet world has “turned into a system that aims to encourage people to surrender to the agenda dictated by the interests of today’s superpowers … if communication is used for ideological purposes or for aggressive advertising of consumer products”. Communication actually determines reality, builds events. Holy Father Benedict XVI emphasized: “In today’s era, more and more, communication seems to not only present reality but also determines reality, showing its power and influence. It has become evident, for example, that in certain situations the media are not used for the proper purposes of disseminating information, but rather to ‘create’ events”.

Thus, evangelizing the new world of communication means displaying authentic communication, which defends the person and human dignity as a whole, and does not manipulate reality. Thus, evangelizing the world of the internet means bringing this network as a means of promoting human solidarity, building brotherhood and friendship between people: “In this context, it is truly proud that a new digital network aims to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for life. Human beings and the goodness of creation. This network can facilitate forms of cooperation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts and enable them to deepen their sense of sharing for the good of all. Therefore, we must firmly ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be built, is a world that is truly open to everyone.”

In order to make virtual communication a process for developing the human person, it is necessary to have a dialogue with virtual reality itself, it is necessary to learn virtual language itself.In this case, it takes courage to recognize the new world itself. From the very beginning of his life, the success of evangelization was determined by the ability to learn a new language and culture and integrate the Christian message into it.Likewise, today the work of proclaiming Christ in the world of new technology requires an in-depth knowledge of the world if that technology is to be used to serve our mission efficiently.”

 Conclusion

Holy Father Francis said at the end of his message for the 2014 World Communications Day: “Don’t be afraid to be a citizen of the digital world.It is very important for the attention and presence of the Church in the world of communication to have a dialogue with today’s people to lead him to meet Christ.In this context, the revolution in communication and information media is a great challenge that is exciting, which calls for fresh energy and new imaginations to communicate the beauty of God to humans.

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