Sunday, June 5, 2011

45th World Communication Day

Today is the Feast of the Ascension and the 45th  celebration of World Communication Day, a special day for prayer for those who work in the media. It was established by Pope Paul VI, following the Second Vatican Council.

The Catholic Times devotes an  editorial to reflect on the digital age and the spread of the Gospel. Celebrating World Communication Day is the way the Church  shows us the importance of the mass media and makes us aware of its vast  possibilities for spreading the Gospel. The messages communicated by mass media--the obvious and not so obvious messages--influence all facets of our life. It is not only a tool in transmitting  information and news but also a prime mover of society. In the Pope's message for World Communication Day, he has asked us to consider a number of factors as we endeavor to become comfortable relating to the digital age.
"First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its “popularity” or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction. The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response. Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith."

The Pope wants us to reflect on the benefits but also the dangers of the new media.  It has given us the possibility of overcoming the limitations of space and culture by meeting and communicating, often instantly, with others from all corners of the world, but there is also the danger of entering a non-real world and being absorbed by it and losing  contact with reality. In a word, virtual reality can not substitute for the world we are in and shouldn't.

The Catholic Church of Korea is taking a lead in using the new media, and reminding us to be honest, open to others, responsible and respectful in a Christ-like way when relating with  others in this virtual world, just as we would if we were communicating in real world circumstances. 

The editorial ends with a  plea that not only those working in the digital world but all those who use any of the new media should reflect on the way they should be used.