By AC Wimmer
Pope Francis has called on Catholics to counter toxicity in social media, and to engage in dialogue and education to help deal with “lies and misinformation.”
In a message published by the Holy See on July 18, the Holy Father also called for the inclusion of currently excluded communities into “the digital space.”
Pope Francis addressed this message to the participants of the 2022 World Congress of SIGNIS in Seoul, South Korea. The event is held every four years, and the 2022 Congress explores the theme of “Peace in the Digital World” both on site and digitally from August 16-19.
SIGNIS is the World Catholic Association for Communication, an organization whose mission is to “help transform cultures in the light of the Gospel by promoting human dignity, justice and reconciliation.”
In his message, Pope Francis said, “the use of digital media, especially social media, has raised a number of serious ethical issues that call for wise and discerning judgment on the part of communicators and all those concerned with the authenticity and quality of human relationships.”
“Sometimes and in some places, media sites have become places of toxicity, hate speech and fake news,” the pope added.
He encouraged Catholic communicators to persevere in efforts to counter these, “paying particular attention to the need to assist people, especially young people, to develop a sound critical sense, learning to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, good from evil, and to appreciate the importance of working for justice, social concord, and respect for our common home.”
The pope also drew attention to “the many communities in our world that remain excluded from the digital space, making digital inclusion a priority.”
In doing so, Catholic communicators provide a “significant contribution to the spread of a culture of peace grounded in the truth of the Gospel,” the Holy Father added.
Pope Francis prayed that “the story of Saint Andrew Kim and his companions two hundred years ago [may] confirm you in your own efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the language of contemporary communications media.”