Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have a new advocate and he’s asking his billions of worldly followers to go forth through social networks to reach the nations. While Pope Benedict XIV is not at the level of Justin Bieber yet on Twitter, he hopes to continue to grow his month-old account well beyond his million and a half followers while encouraging them to spread the word of the gospel through social media.
In an address given for the 47th World Communications Day, the Pope urged his followers to start participating in social networks. Some excerpts of his speech are below and the full transcript can be found here.
The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.
Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation.
Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important.
Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.