John Lilburne's journal about the Pope's message for World Communications Day: "Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel."



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0940 L Thu 24 Jan 2002

I am impressed by the Pope's new message on the Internet, particularly the conclusion:

... I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net, so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may shown to the world "the glory of God on the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). May the Lord bless all those who work for this aim.

Caution is expressed about the internet. For example:

Like the new frontiers of other times, this one too is full of the interplay of danger and promise, and not without the sense of adventure which marked other great periods of change. ...

Like other communications media, it is a means, not an end in itself. ...

Despite its enormous potential for good, some of the degrading and damaging ways in which the Internet can be used are already obvious to all, and public authorities surely have a common responsibility to guarantee that this marvellous instrument serves the common good and does not become a source of harm. ...

Moreover, as a forum in which practically everything is acceptable and almost nothing is lasting, the Internet favours a relativistic way of thinking and sometimes feeds the flight from personal responsibility and commitment. ...

There is no doubt that the electronic revolution holds out the promise of great positive breakthroughs for the developing world; but there is also the possibility that it will in fact aggravate existing inequalities as the information and communication gap widens. ...

The Pope is more cautious than, for example, Tom Peters, in his 1999 book "The Brand You 50":

Short message: If you don't have a Web site ... get one. It need not be fancy. But it can be of extraordinary value (e.g.: community building, identity-creating, Client-attracting); and it signals that you're "with the program" (not stuck in the Dark Ages). ... (page 138)

For starters: Spend time on the Web. Every Day. Get comfortable with it. Use it. Assess sites. What works? What doesn't? ... (page 140)

Perhaps this reflects the different audiences. The Pope's intended audience includes those who cannot afford this or lack the skills necessary for it. But it is significant that he is asking Catholics to: "reflect on the subject: "Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel".

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 24 January 2002.

Links to other sites:

Message of the Holy Father for the 36th World Communications Day

Tom Peters