"New Technologies, New Relationships.
Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."
Greetings to you! I earnestly wish that Jesus Christ be the centre of your life and ministry! Let this day dedicated to Social Communications remind us all of our duty to proclaim Him always and everywhere.
The potential and effects of the Media of Social Communication cannot be easily ignored; and this is specially true about the mobile telephony, the computer and the internet. The Pope’s Message, this year, "New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship," is a welcome reflection on this reality. For this is the astounding potential of these personal communications media: establishing contact with people through instantaneous transmission of words and images across enormous distances, even to the most isolated corners of the world; and their effects are that families and friends are able to keep in touch across the world, students and researchers have an easy and immediate access to documents and sources across continents, thus facilitating more dynamic forms of learning and communication. It is what is known as digital technology.
Parallel to this communication revolution, a new generation is evolving. Pope Benedict XVI calls it the “digital generation.” The new technologies and this new generation have taken to each other quite spontaneously, as young people, in particular, have immediately grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster relationships and connectedness.
In this my Letter, I would like to stress upon the potential of the media to help build relationships. For this is so central to human living! It is a human being’s fundamental desire – that which moves him or her to relate to others. Our young, who are crossing that crucial phase of human growth where relating to the other is so vitally important, utilize the new communication technologies to satiate this fundamental desire: they want to maintain existing friends, meet new friends and belong in groups, even global, online communities. Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and even YouTube are just a few examples.
One cannot let such opportunities go to waste. The tremendous potential of the new communication technologies is but a reflection of God’s work – the work of His Love, through which He communicates with the human person and gathers humanity into one family. And this is a vision that our youth – especially Christian youth -- should not lose sight of. Under this prism, our youth should be encouraged to use the contemporary media of social communication also as a means to witness to their faith, to fight evil and spread the good, so as to make it reach particularly those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. In doing so, they will truly participate in the life of God, the God of communication and communion.
It is in this context that the Holy Father appeals to all who are actively involved in the ever-growing communication technologies to commit themselves to promoting a genuine culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.Parents and those responsible for the formation of the youth would have to use all the means possible to accompany and guide those placed under their care. Let an environment be created in our homes where there is frank dialogue, not only about the tools used but also about the contents that are put in circulation. Let our educational institutions, especially through their teachers, professors and lecturers, create an atmosphere in which young people are taught to respect themselves and each other as well as to establish a dialogue of cultures, action and life, which forge true and lasting friendship. May our houses of formation be instruments of such human and Christian upbringing, so that our youth may be challenged to effectively become the reflection of that God who wants to commune with humanity.
I would like to end by quoting from the Message at the end of Prabhu Yesu Mahotsav, concluded in Mumbai on the 18th of this month: “We will find new avenues of proclaiming the Good News especially through the media, which offers us tremendous possibilities of reaching out widely and effectively, specially to the Youth.” In the wake of a series of Mission Congresses that took place in our land recently, it is imperative that the Good News of the Gospel should find in all of us, but very specially in our young people, enthusiastic and active messengers, ready to use, for the purpose, all the means modern technology has to offer.
Archbishop’s House, Panjim, Goa, October 21, 2009.
(+ Filipe Neri Ferrão)
Archbishop of Goa and Daman