Father Lombardi: Christians Must Examine Online Witness
Reflects on Benedict XVI's Letter on Abuse Crisis in Ireland
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The world is increasingly becoming one huge social network thanks to the dominant role of the Internet in society, and Christians must be vigilant in keeping the dignity of the human person front and center, says a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, made this reflection in an interview with Intercom magazine, a pastoral and liturgical resource of the Irish Bishops' Conference.
Reflecting on Benedict XVI's message for World Communications Day, which will be observed June 5, the Vatican spokesman said that relationships established online should never be purely superficial, and that they must not lose their quality.
"What kind of 'friendships' are we building online?" the director asked. "Is the network a place where we can convincingly and credibly give 'testimony,' or is it only an environment of noncommittal presences, fictitious profiles where we fail to admit the truth about ourselves?"
"This is a culture in which young people especially are deeply immersed," the priest said, "simultaneously experiencing wonderful opportunities for new relationships and increasing risks of isolation or withdrawal from everyday life."
Father Lombardi said these are the issues Christians should reflect on, adding that Benedict XVI always takes a positive approach in his pastoral addresses on the new digital culture.
"The message this year is a very strong call to profound reflection on how we live our human experience and Christian witness in the age and culture of Internet," Father Lombardi noted.
In the same interview, Father Lombardi commented on Benedict XVI's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, which he described as the "most comprehensive text that the Pope has ever written on the question of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy."
Father Lombardi said that the letter, which was published in March 2010, attracted particular attention because it was Ireland where the tragedy of abuse hit the Church the hardest. However, the letter was written also for an international audience, as the abuse has affected the universal Church, Father Lombardi explained.
"Even if some parts of the letter are addressed more specifically to Ireland," Father Lombardi said, "in light of its Christian history and commitments toward concrete renewal, most of the document could easily refer to other countries and situations, such as the intense section addressed to victims, their families, to abusers, the various components of the community."
The issue of abuse "has dramatically marked and continues to mark the life of the Church in recent years in a profound way," Father Lombardi said. "It has left very deep wounds and done serious damage, particularly in some countries, but also -- we must add -- throughout the universal community of the Church. Benedict XVI has to lead the Church at this time of crisis, and he does so with admirable courage and humility, setting us the example of the evangelical attitudes to adopt and action to be taken."
Though Irish Catholics have perhaps been tried the most by the tragedy of abuse, Fahter Lombardi said, "if it can renew itself and rise up again, if it can prove itself worthy of its great tradition, then it will once again lend a great service to the Church in Europe and worldwide, offering its priceless experience of true penance, purification and renewal, revival of community life where children are effectively protected and secure in their human and Christian growth."
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