In honor of Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the U.S., we share the text of his recent encyclical, Laudato Si',
which focused on climate change, but also paid heed to the mixed role of media in cultivating human relationships. At
paragraph 47, he states:
Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.
As you disengage with one part of our media ecosystem this week, reflect on how you can increase your "direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others."
Fasting in peace and solidarity,
UCC's media justice ministry, OC Inc.