2 Documents About Internet Are Due Out This Week

Archbishop Foley Describes Key Features

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican this Thursday will publish two documents on the challenges Internet that poses to ethics and evangelization.



Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, announced the news at the annual organizational meeting of the Website Network of the Church in Latin America (RIIAL) held here Saturday.

The first, "Ethics in Internet," adds to the series of documents of the pontifical council that began with "Ethics in Advertising" (1997) and "Ethics in Communications" (2000).

The second new document, "Church and Internet," offers guidelines for evangelization on the computer network.

The archbishop said the documents recognize "the value of the electronic medium in itself." The Church, which "does not fear the objectivity of analysis, and detects at every moment the sign of the times," wishes to point out "how providential the emergence of these new tools has been for communication and communion," he added.

"As a result, the Pope made the courageous call to enter the Internet world without fear," the archbishop recalled.

In fact, the Holy Father made this appeal explicitly in his message for this year´s World Communications Day, entitled "Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel".

"This call is an echo of that first one when he requested the Church to undertake a new evangelization, which would be new in its methods, in its ardor, and in its expression," the archbishop said, referring to John Paul II´s address to Haiti´s bishops in 1983.

The history of the Church in the use of different means of communication is "an excellent base," the archbishop said. But he cautioned: "The same methods and language cannot be simply applied in an environment that has other means."

"It is necessary to learn and to be creative in new forms," Archbishop Foley said.

He said the two new documents try to point out frankly "the virtues and risks of these electronic means."

"They do not idealize them or condemn them in themselves," the archbishop said. The documents, he added, "not only make a technological but also a cultural evaluation, not just spiritual, but take a long-term view that considers technology in its totality in relation to the individual, the family and society in the light of Gospel values."

The documents arise from a "social sensibility," which appeals to the Church "to work actively to avoid a ´digital breach,´ namely the gap between those known as ´info-poor´ and the ´info-rich,´" Archbishop Foley explained.

"The request for solidarity, and respect for the dignity of the person and community, is the axis on which the real humanizing action of technology rests," he concluded.