Italy - Is the Church meeting the challenges and opportunities of the web?

26 April 2019

(ANS - Rome) - In 2019 the world celebrates 30 years since the origins of the web. Professor Fabio Pasqualetti, SDB, Dean of the Faculty of Social Communication of the Salesian Pontifical University, identifies changes and new challenges.

How has the communication of the Church changed in these decades, both in reference to the announcement of the Word, and to being online.

First of all, the Church has, above all, been challenged mainly at the level of communication structure. The Church, we could easily acknowledge, has always had a "top-down" communication structure, that is, from the highest vertices to the base. The Internet instead implies a totally opposite mode of communication: from everyone to everyone, it is horizontal, it has no center.

Hence, the Church has had to accept the challenge of entering the network having to accept the fact that it is a voice among many voices. I believe this is the biggest challenge, in the sense that you actually need to have something interesting to say for someone to come to visit your sites, refer to your content and therefore also find a space for discussion. However, there are still not many ecclesial institutions and sites that still welcome direct confrontation; many perhaps receive contributions, but always very regulated; others are information portals.

I believe, however, that in the long run the idea is entering that the communication mode - if one accepts to stay in these digital environments, in social media for example - inevitably entails direct interaction.

Surely the Church has been able, even prophetically, to recall in its magisterial documents the role that internet communication must have?

The fundamental principle of the Church, which concerns all means of communication, is that these should help us to humanize ourselves more and more; this is also the great challenge. It can be placed in another symbolic parameter taken from the Gospel: either the Sabbath is at the service of man or man risks being a slave to the Sabbath.

Today, what are the new Saturdays? We could start from the economy, from development, from technology that if oriented in the new forms at the service of man they become truly liberating and we can progress and grow as humanity; in the moment in which, instead, they become instruments of control, of power, of submission of the others they obviously enslave. So, I believe that here too the big challenge is to understand today which direction we are going; understand, for example, the whole problem of algorithms, machine learning, who uses them, who controls them, what is being done, in order to have greater knowledge and awareness of which direction we are taking, as a society and as humanity.

Source: Vatican News


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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