Pope Francis on the Purpose of Social Communications

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on September 24, 2013

in Digital Age, Online Presence, Pope Francis

Pope FrancisOn Saturday, September 21, Pope Francis addressed the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in Rome. He offered three points in his reflections.

1) The Church has always valued communications in all of its forms as important in the work of evangelization.  While the means of communication have evolved significantly in recent years, the Church’s commitment to use all means available to make Christ known and loved has not changed.

2) The role of the Church in these new areas of communications is to be present to all who are there.  His words:

It is therefore important to know how to dialogue and, with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses and encourages. Allow yourselves, without fear, to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment. A Church that follows this path learns how to walk with everybody.

3) Pope Francis reminded us that the biggest challenge is not technological–it is our own readiness to bring Christ into the digital world.

The great digital continent not only involves technology but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, their concerns and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful and good. We need to bring Christ to others, through these joys and hopes, like Mary, who brought Christ to the hearts of men and women; we need to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way; we need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the dreams, without being seduced; to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity (cf. Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 27 July 2013, n. 4).

In summarizing his message, Pope Francis concluded:

Dear friends, it is important to bring the solicitude and the presence of the Church into the world of communications so as to dialogue with the men and women of today and bring them to meet Christ. This must be done, however, in complete awareness that we ourselves are means of communication and that the real problem does not concern the acquisition of the latest technologies, even if these make a valid presence possible. It is necessary to be absolutely clear that the God in whom we believe, who loves all men and women intensely, wants to reveal himself through the means at our disposal, however poor they are, because it is he who is at work, he who transforms and saves us.


You can read the full address here.

What do you take from these thoughts of Pope Francis?

Editor’s Note:  The photo is from the Catholic Church of England and Wales via Flickr. Some rights reserved.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Cardaronella September 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I loved this address! I think this is so huge because he’s saying the purpose of social communication is to form relationships…to dialogue with and understand people so we can know how to share the gospel with them. This is such a radical shift in the Vatican’s idea of communication. It was about broadcasting the Pope’s messages all over the world. It was a one-way channel. Now it’s about listening and sharing and identifying with them. It’s two-way communication with a pastoral focus to connect with people. That’s exactly what we need for the future Church.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND September 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

Great point, Marc! Now we need to get all of us who are online to implement that listening and sharing as part of our presence.

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