My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
For over 50 years, the Holy See has published a message from the Holy Father for World Communications Day. This year, the theme is “We are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:25) This is a reference to the social network communities to which we belong that should contribute to the whole human community.
Recently, an article in one of our major papers made note that the Catholic Church was the first major religious group to make use of the Internet in the service of the propagation of the faith. Perhaps it was St. Paul, himself, who entered the area of the Areopagus, or the debating place in Athens, as is described in the Acts of the Apostles, who used the first means of social communication available at that time to propagate and explain our faith in Jesus Christ. Over the ages, the Church has continually tried to communicate the faith through every means possible. The means of communication has changed over the centuries and has brought us to this unprecedented time in human history when communication is so easy and so universal.
In this year’s statement, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, compares the community of faith to the community that can be found through the use of the Internet when he says, “Everyone can see how, in the present scenario, social network communities are not automatically synonymous with community. In the best cases, these virtual communities are able to demonstrate cohesion and solidarity, but often they remain simply groups of individuals who recognize one another through common interest or concerns characterized by weak bonds.” We recognize that social networks as the means of communication can, indeed, be weak and even be used for negative purposes. The Holy Father goes on to explain that cyberbullying is one of the dangers of modern-day social communications.
On the other hand, when we look at the numerous means of communication available for the exercise of spreading the faith, we recognize the negativity that can be part of social communication today. This is worth overcoming for the tremendous good that also can result in using these most modern means of communication.
One of the interesting theological matters that Pope Francis places in his message is that communication is a participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is because of the bond of the unity that they share, which is a bond of love. They are constantly in communication with one another. They become the model for us all by showing us what the human family and community should be like. The Trinity models all human communication. When we think of this in these terms, we recognize the sacredness that communication possesses. One of the responsibilities is that communication must be truthful. It is a grave responsibility to speak in any way about the faith or to speak about others. There must always be a real concern for the constant attention to the truth.
In our own diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, we are privileged to have the DeSales Media Group that allows the Diocese of Brooklyn to be among the best in using all means of social communication available today for the service of the faith. For over 100 years through The Tablet, our diocesan newspaper, and for 50 years, our television ministries, known today to us as NetTV, New Evangelization Television, and now through the Internet and all of the other social means being used, we are right there with everyone trying our best to make known our Catholic faith to others. This year’s World Communication Day, held on May 8 in the Diocese of Brooklyn, has the theme; “The Power of the Story: Growing the Catholic Church Through the Good News.” Our keynote speaker and honoree this year was Monsignor Sean Ogle, Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Astoria. Monsignor Ogle is perhaps one of the most gifted historians in the diocese. He seems to know our history from long ago to the present so well and tells some of the best stories about the diocese that I have ever heard. His are stories that maintain your interest, stories that truly communicate a good message.
Each time we attempt communication with others we do put out into the deep. It is never easy to truly communicate with another person and to meet them in truth where they are so that true dialogue can result. The sacred duty of communication frequently gives us the opportunity to bring the Good News to the world. That news is that Jesus, the greatest communicator of all time, has given to us the Good News that we are saved through His sacrifice.