The Dispatch

Aquinas on the sin of rash judgment

September 29, 2022 Dr. Edward Feser 4

Christ famously taught: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).  As Aquinas points out, Christ by no means intended to rule out all judgments about another person’s actions or character.  Rather, he was […]

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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.”


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Pope Francis to Swedish Academy: Social media promotes monologue instead of dialogue

November 19, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis meets members of the Swedish Academy at the Vatican’s Hall of Popes, Nov. 19, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke about dialogue, the search for truth, and the inalienable dignity of every human person in a meeting on Friday with the Swedish Academy, which awards the yearly Nobel Prize in Literature.

“The pervasive growth of social media risks replacing dialogue with a welter of monologues, often aggressive in tone,” the pope said Nov. 19 in the Vatican’s Hall of Popes.

He added that COVID-19 had tested the capacity to dialogue with others. He pointed to the long periods of confinement and the deep effect that the pandemic has had on people, even unconsciously.

“We find ourselves a little more distant from others, a little more reserved, perhaps more guarded, or simply less inclined to join with others, to work side by side, with the satisfaction and effort born of building something together,” he noted.

This situation, he said, “threatens each of us as persons, since it diminishes our capacity for relationships, and impoverishes society and the world around us.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Quoting from his 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, he said that “social dialogue, instead, ‘involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view’ with sincerity and without deceit.”

“I wish to share this theme of social dialogue as the royal road towards a new culture,” he told the academy members, who, he said, “have the pulse” of contemporary culture.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

The Swedish Academy, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, has 18 members, who are elected for life. It is considered the foremost authority on the Swedish language, and since 1901 has chosen the annual winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

In 2018, the Nobel Prize was postponed to the following year due to a sexual harassment and corruption scandal involving some of the academy’s members. In the fallout, a number stood down. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf then formally amended the statutes to make it possible for members to resign.

Pope Francis told the group that “dialogue is not synonymous with relativism.”

He said: “Indeed, society is all the more noble whenever it cultivates the search for truth and is rooted in fundamental truths, and especially when it acknowledges that ‘every human being possesses an inalienable dignity.’”

“Believers and nonbelievers alike can agree on this principle,” he said.