Put Out into the Deep

Getting Personal in a Digital Age

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

On June 5 of this year, the Church will celebrate the 45th World Communications Day with theme, “Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of the Life in the Digital Age.”  Forty-five years ago, communication was remarkably different than it is today.  Although the invention of the television made tremendous leaps in communication, in the digital age of today communication is even more critical part of our lives as human and as Christians.  The Internet and the various adaptations that have come from this source of communication and information have transformed the way we act and the way we think in the world today.
Communication between people has developed over the whole history of time.  The very emergence of human language, with all of its complexity and specificity, is a phenomenon that continually amazes me.  How can the world speak so many languages?  How can the world communicate among people?  It must be a gift of God to us, so that we use the means of communication to the glory of God, who was the Creator.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his World Communication Day message, reminds us of the question that arises from the multiplicity of easy communication available to us today.  He asks, “Who is my ‘neighbor’ in this new world?  Does the danger exist that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life?  Is there a risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world ‘other’ than the one in which we live?  Do we have the time to reflect critically on our choices and to foster human relationships which are truly deep and lasting?”
And, as he concludes, “It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”
Truly, this is the challenge of the digital age.  Do the means of communication truly enhance communications among persons?  Or have they become a crutch or shield that has weakened true human communication?
Today, as we reflect on the quality of our communication with others, we must constantly evaluate ourselves as to how well we are communicating because we are charged to communicating the Gospel as Christians to all people.  As the Holy Father reminds us, “In the digital age too, everyone is confronted by the need for authenticity and reflection.  Besides, the dynamic inherent in the social networks demonstrates that a person is always involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, and their ideals.  It follows that there exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.”
Our own diocese, here in Brooklyn and Queens, has taken this to heart.  In addition to The Tablet, and our cable television network, The NET, we are trying to use the Internet and diocesan websites, and other more personal means of communication, Facebook and Twitter, to enhance our work as a diocese.  We must always remember, however, that the means of communication can never substitute for the human imperative to communicate.  The means are secondary.  What is primary is our intention to bring the Good News of the Gospel to others.
Truly, the world has put out into the deep with the dawn of the digital age that which enhanced the means of communication exponentially.   We must always keep in mind, however, our responsibility to use the God-given gift of communication for the good of the world for the sake of the Gospel.

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