The Dispatch

“Inclusion” and Catholicism

February 1, 2023 George Weigel 16

Back in the day, kiddie-Catholics learned that the Church had four “marks:” the Church is one, holy, catholic (as in “universal”), and apostolic. These marks derived from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which we recite at Mass […]

No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis warns of toxicity in social media, calls for inclusion in digital space

July 18, 2022 Catholic News Agency 8
Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Rome’s Congolese community in St. Peter’s Basilica on July 3, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2022 / 03:56 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to counter toxicity in social media, and to engage in dialogue and education to help deal with “lies and misinformation”. 

In a message published by the Holy See on July 18, the Holy Father also called for the inclusion of currently excluded communities into “the digital space”.

Pope Francis addressed this message to the participants of the 2022 World Congress of SIGNIS in Seoul, South Korea. The event is held every four years, and the 2022 Congress  explores the theme of “Peace in the Digital World” both on site and digitally from August 16-19. 

SIGNIS is the World Catholic Association for Communication, an organization whose mission is to “help transform cultures in the light of the Gospel by promoting human dignity, justice and reconciliation.”  

In his message, Pope Francis said, “the use of digital media, especially social media, has raised a number of  serious ethical issues that call for wise and discerning judgment on the part of communicators and  all those concerned with the authenticity and quality of human relationships.” 

“Sometimes and in some places, media sites have become places of toxicity, hate speech and fake news,” the pope added.

He encouraged Catholic communicators to persevere in efforts to counter these, “paying particular attention to the need to assist people, especially young people, to develop a sound  critical sense, learning to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, good from evil, and to  appreciate the importance of working for justice, social concord, and respect for our common home.”

The pope also drew attention to “the many communities in our world that remain excluded  from the digital space, making digital inclusion a priority.”

In doing  so, Catholic communicators provide a “significant contribution to the spread of a culture of peace grounded in the  truth of the Gospel,” the Holy Father added. 

Pope Francis prayed that “the story of Saint Andrew  Kim and his companions two hundred years ago [may] confirm you in your own efforts to spread the  Gospel of Jesus Christ in the language of contemporary communications media.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis advocates for inclusion of people with disabilities in society

April 1, 2022 Catholic News Agency 3
Pope Francis met with the Italian Autism Foundation in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on April 1, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Apr 1, 2022 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, Pope Francis called for a “culture of inclusion,” which breaks down barriers to ensure that people with disabilities can more fully take part in church communities and civil society.

Pope Francis met with an autism association at the Vatican on Friday and expressed the importance of supporting education, employment, and social opportunities for people with all types of disabilities.

“Disability, in all its forms, represents a challenge and an opportunity to build together a more inclusive and civil society, where family members, teachers and associations like yours are not left alone but are supported,” the pope said in the meeting on April 1.

“For this reason, it is necessary to continue to raise awareness about the various aspects of disability, breaking down prejudices and promoting a culture of inclusion and belonging, based on the dignity of the person.”

The pope underlined that the Church in particular is called to help those with disabilities to “make their voices heard.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a very serious impact especially on the most vulnerable, on the elderly, on people with disabilities and their families. In recent weeks, the tragedy of the war in Ukraine has been added: let’s think of those who are most disadvantaged,” he said.

World Autism Awareness Day takes place each year on April 2. It was established by the United Nations in 2008 to promote the rights and well-being of people who live with learning differences and developmental disabilities.

Pope Francis met with the Italian Autism Foundation, an organization dedicated to research and the creation of social inclusion programs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Philip, a 20-year-old man living on the autism spectrum, shared his life experiences with the pope in a brief speech at the beginning of the meeting in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

After the papal audience, some of the group’s young members with autism volunteered to help bring food to the homeless in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope commended the young people for this “beautiful” gesture, which he said reminded him of the Good Samaritan described in Jesus’ parable in the Gospel of Luke.

“Closeness, compassion, tenderness. With these three features we see the face of God, the heart of God, the style of God,” he said.

Pope Francis pointed to the example of Saint Margaret of Citta de Castello, a 13th century woman born with multiple disabilities who devoted herself to prayer and caring for the poor.

He said that “all those men and women who are more fragile and vulnerable, too often marginalized because they are labeled as different or even useless … are actually a great treasure for society.”