Archbishop of Hyderabad Joys of the children of God the Father in Christ Jesus His Eternal Son, to one and all of you during this Easter season!

What is this Easter joy with which the obedient children of God the Father are quite overwhelmingly filled in their inner natures through the Holy Spirit? St. Peter answers this question for us in the most sublime manner: ‘Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).’ St. Paul too explains the nature of this Easter joy in a more focused manner to the faithful of the Church in Rome: ‘The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).’ It is a joy which is not only unknown but also, quite tragically, incomprehensible to all those whose ‘minds are set on earthly things’ and ‘whose god ís the belly’ and ‘live as enemies of the cross of Christ’ and ‘whose end ís destruction(Phil.3:18-19).’ It is the joy of all those who have purposefully renewed their baptismal promises to persevere in their daily participation of the faith of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ expressing itself in works of divine charity and imbued with true fear of God and the supernatural virtue of hope in order ‘to attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil.3:11). In sum, it is the abiding joy that the Son our Lord Jesus Christ Himself perennially gives to His faithful ones through His Holy Spirit to assure them that ‘their citizenship is in heaven’ from where they are ‘expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,’ who ‘will transform their lowly bodies to the likeness of His own glorious body’ by the power ‘that enables Him to make all things subject to Himself (Phil.3:20-21).’

‘Deliver us Lord from every evil, grant us peace in our day, and in Your mercy keep us free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ!’

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE 53rd WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

“We are members one of another” (Eph4,25). From social network communities to the human community

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Ever since the internet first became available, the Church has always sought to promote its use in the service of the encounter between persons, and of solidarity among all. With this Message I would like to invite you once again to reflect on the foundation and importance of our being-in-relation and to rediscover, in the vast array of challenges of the current communications context, the desire of the human person who does not want to be left isolated and alone.

The metaphors of the net and community

Today’s media environment is so pervasive as to be indistinguishable from the sphere of everyday life. The Net is a resource of our time. It is a source of knowledge and relationships that were once unthinkable. However, in terms of the profound transformations technology has brought to bear on the process of production, distribution and use of content, many experts also highlight the risks that threaten the search for, and sharing of, authentic information on a global scale. If the Internet represents an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge, it is also true that it has proven to be one of the areas most exposed to disinformation and to the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit.

We need to recognize how social networks, on the one hand, help us to better connect, rediscover, and assist one another, but on the other, lend themselves to the manipulation of personal data, aimed at obtaining political or economic advantages, without due respect for the person and his or her rights. Statistics show that among young people one in four is involved in episodes of cyberbullying.[1]

In this complex scenario, it may be useful to reflect again on the metaphor of the net, which was the basis of the Internet to begin with, to rediscover its positive potential. The image of the net invites us to reflect on the multiplicity of lines and intersections that ensure its stability in the absence of a centre, a hierarchical structure, a form of vertical organization. The net works because all its elements share responsibility. From an anthropological point of view, the metaphor of the net recalls another meaningful image: the community. A community is that much stronger if it is cohesive and supportive, if it is animated by feelings of trust, and pursues common objectives. The community as a network of solidarity requires mutual listening and dialogue, based on the responsible use of language.

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 interests or concerns characterized by weak bonds. Moreover, in the social web identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice (ethnic, sexual, religious and other). This tendency encourages groups that exclude diversity, that even in the digital environment nourish unbridled individualism which sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred. In this way, what ought to be a window on the world becomes a showcase for exhibiting personal narcissism.

The Net is an opportunity to promote encounter with others, but it can also increase our self-isolation, like a web that can entrap us. Young people are the ones most exposed to the illusion that the social web can completely satisfy them on a relational level. There is the dangerous phenomenon of young people becoming “social hermits” who risk alienating themselves completely from society. This dramatic situation reveals a serious rupture in the relational fabric of society, one we cannot ignore. This multiform and dangerous reality raises various questions of an ethical, social, juridical, political and economic nature, and challenges the Church as well. While governments seek legal ways to regulate the web and to protect the original vision of a free, open and secure network, we all have the possibility and the responsibility to promote its positive use.

Clearly, it is not enough to multiply connections in order to increase mutual understanding. How, then, can we find our true communitarian identity, aware of the responsibility we have towards one another in the online network as well?

WE ARE MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER

A possible answer can be drawn from a third metaphor: that of the body and the members, which Saint Paul uses to describe the reciprocal relationship among people, based on the organism that unites them. “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each to his neighbour, for we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25). Being members one of another is the profound motivation with which the Apostle invites us to put away falsehood and speak the truth: the duty to guard the truth springs from the need not to belie the mutual relationship of communion. Truth is revealed in communion. Lies, on the other hand, are a selfish refusal to recognize that we are members of one body; they are a refusal to give ourselves to others, thus losing the only way to find ourselves.

The metaphor of the body and the members leads us to reflect on our identity, which is based on communion and on “otherness”. As Christians, we all recognize ourselves as members of the one body whose head is Christ. This helps us not to see people as potential competitors, but to consider even our enemies as persons. We no longer need an adversary in order to define ourselves, because the allencompassing gaze we learn from Christ leads us to discover otherness in a new way, as an integral part and condition of relationship and closeness.

Such a capacity for understanding and communication among human persons is based on the communion of love among the divine Persons. God is not Solitude, but Communion; he is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates; indeed, it communicates itself in order to encounter the other. In order to communicate with us and to communicate himself to us, God adapts himself to our language, establishing a real dialogue with humanity throughout history (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 2)....