The call of Pope Francis to take the Gospel to the streets also includes the digital ones. The first message of Pope Francis for World Communications Day is consistent with the Holy Father’s concern for reaching individuals where they are. Today that often means the virtual confines of the digital environment.
The Holy Father’s message is focused on the prospect of authentic encounter in a digital culture. Pope Francis invokes the well-worn image of the highway — a comparison often drawn by those who view the Internet as an “information superhighway.” In his recasting of the highway analogy, the Holy Father considers the hollowing out of relationships that occurs in a world of speed and efficiency, “It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves.”
To stretch the analogy a bit further, the image of people encased in vehicles of modern transportation, closed in on themselves as they rush from one thing to another, mirrors the modern communications environment. The sublime subtleties of nature are a mere blur from the climate controlled confines of a car or plane. The suffering of individuals homeless, stranded or injured hardly penetrates the callous veneers of steel and glass that fly by in pursuit of maximum efficiency.
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