||Home > Synod > 2010-10-16 11:19:18
Intervention of Mons. Claudio Maria CELLI, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (VATICAN CITY)
As aptly underlined by the Instrumentum Laboris (no. 67) and by the Relation (p.12), means of communication, traditional and new ones, offer a great opportunity for evangelization and the spreading of the values of the Gospel; especially among young people who are perhaps not assiduous churchgoers, but who increasingly use these means and communicate among themselves through the networks.
I wish to underline, though, that we are talking not just about instruments but about a real culture created by a communicative complexity that has never before been seen in history.
I will take an example. The Churches in the East have a centuries-old iconic tradition, an admirable capacity for creating a language through images. This is not just the fruit of a spirituality but it is reinforced by and generates a culture as well, a school of life and thought that forms part of the common identity of so many local Churches and society.
Modern-day culture creates and feeds new languages and ways of thought. It pervades mentalities, ways of understanding, ways of learning, topics on which to dialogue. We cannot therefore answer the challenges of today and tomorrow with the solutions of yesterday. We cannot continue to speak in our categories to a population that is increasingly distant from them. For the love of our peoples, we have to make a pastoral conversion, learn again how to listen and communicate, which does not mean running after the latest technology but understanding the categories of the other and using them.
This “digital” culture is marked by its immediacy, by its fast sequence of images, music, by brief concise text. The spoken form too has changed, and words alone are no longer sufficient. Books and the press will not disappear, nor will the simple parish bulletin, but these are no longer enough.
Digital culture is also present in the various nations of the Middle East and the local Churches through TV, radio, cinema, websites and social networks. All this media space has an impact on daily life: it shapes values, choices, opinions and questions, what a person thinks, and it affects Christians too... sometimes with a force that is much more incisive than that of the catechists, the priest in his sermon, the bishop. It is no coincidence the Holy Father has invited us to be present, to exercise a diakonia of this culture, offering the message of Christ in today’s languages, digital and traditional, real and virtual, announcing the mercy of God, listening to the other, love for our enemies, welcome and respect for every human being, in particular, the weak. Diakonia, service to people in their culture.
This is also possible in dialogue with non-believers with so many who are in search of God, opening - as Pope Benedict invited us - “the courtyards of the Gentiles”, that is, of spaces for dialogue and listening for those who have questions and are searching. The media surprises the world with the quantity of books, films, websites, etc that have to do with religion, the search for the transcendent and for spirituality, the search for justice and peace. The Church has to listen, walk with this humility and offer the precious treasure of the Gospel. But it has to seek to do so in the categories that are used today.
So, as indicated in the Relatio, the formation of pastoral agents is necessary. Obviously of lay people and journalists but not only. The formation of seminarians is urgent, not so much as regards technology, which they are better at managing than we are, but as regards communication, communion in this rapidly developing culture. Without priests - and then without bishops - who understand modern culture, there will still be a communications divide which will not favor the transmission of the faith to the young in the Church. It is not sufficient to build websites: what is needed is a presence that is able to create authentic means of communication, that opens “places” where people can gather to testify to their faith in respect of the other. Obviously this does not mean overlooking personal meeting and physical community life; these are not alternative actions. They are both now indispensable for extending God’s kingdom.
[00087-02.03] [IN066] [Original text: Italian]