Pope to families: Use media to strengthen relationships

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VATICAN, Jan. 25, 2015—Pope Francis on Friday warned the Catholic faithful of the harmful effects of modern media to human relationships, urging them to use technology wisely as a means to foster better communication among families, strengthening bonds.

“The media can help communication when they enable people to share their stories, to stay in contact with distant friends, to thank others or to seek their forgiveness, and to open the door to new encounters,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis reports on his recent trips to Sri Lanka and the Philippines during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Jan. 21, 2015. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

Help and hindrance

In his message for the 49th World Day of Communications, the Supreme Pontiff recognized the advantage and disadvantages of modern media, noting that it can be “both a help and a hindrance to communication in and between families.”

Pope Francis also warned families to be aware of how media poses a lot of distractions and downplays the importance of physical contact among families.

“The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that ‘silence is an integral element of communication’; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist,” the Pope said.

“By growing daily in our awareness of the vital importance of encountering others, these ‘new possibilities’, we will employ technology wisely, rather than letting ourselves be dominated by it,” he added.

Great challenge

The Holy Father said the need for deep and personal communication is one of the greatest challenges faced by today’s generation.

“The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information. The latter is a tendency which our important and influential modern communications media can encourage,” Pope Francis explained.

Because of the proliferation of high-end gadgets that characterize the modern world, personal bonds are weakened as the need for personal connection gets more and more trivialized, he noted.

The pontiff also reminded parents of the role they play as “primary educators”, who are tasked to guide their children in the proper consumption of modern media.

“The Christian community is called to help them in teaching children how to live in a media environment in a way consonant with the dignity of the human person and service of the common good,” he stressed.

“Information is important, but it is not enough. All too often things get simplified, different positions and viewpoints are pitted against one another, and people are invited to take sides, rather than to see things as a whole,” he added.

The Vatican on Friday released Pope Francis’ message for the 49th World Day of Social Communications. It will be celebrated on May 17 with the theme “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love.” (Jennifer M. Orillaza/CBCP News)

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