Educate young people not to be “naïve” and to maintain a healthy “prudence” on the internet. This is what Pope Francis asked of delegations from the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies (FISC), the Italian Periodic Press Union (USPI), and the ‘Corallo’ and ‘Aiart’ associations, whom he received in the Vatican on November 23, 2023.
Pope Francis encouraged these organizations in their work, as they are committed to educating people on their approach to the media, as well as relaying information, while highlighting the issues that permeate the world of communications and the web today.
“Various innovations have affected your sector, and this is why you must always renew your commitment to the promotion of the dignity of people, to justice and truth, to legality and educational co-responsibility,” he explained, adding that this is especially important for “the younger generations immersed in an increasingly digital context.”
2 Key elements: prudence and simplicity
The Pope highlighted two elements as being the key to navigating the digital world and that need to be taught to young people.
“Prudence and simplicity are two basic educational ingredients to navigate today’s complexity, especially the web, where it is necessary not to be naïve – not to be naïve – and at the same time, not to give in to the temptation to sow anger and hatred,” the Pontiff said.
“Prudence, lived with simplicity of heart, is that virtue that helps to see far, that leads us to act with foresight, with forward thinking,” he added.
He also called for the promotion of “tools that protect everyone, especially the weakest, minors, the elderly and people with disabilities, and to protect them from the intrusiveness of the digital world and the seductions of provocative and polemic communication.”
The Pontiff encouraged the associations to do “this fearlessly, like David against Goliath.”
“You are called to a great task: to protect, through words and images, the dignity of people, especially the dignity of the small and the poor, God’s favorites,” he said.
The Catholic media outlets’ mission
In order to educate people to a safe and prudent use of the media, the Pope underlined that Catholic outlets have a particular responsibility.
“Catholic weeklies bring this wise outlook into the homes of the people: They do not only provide the news of the moment, which is easily burnt, but also convey a humane vision, a Christian vision aimed at forming minds and hearts,” he explained.
Warning against a “morbid curiosity” or “shouted” words, Pope Francis encouraged Catholic outlets to fulfill their “vocation” of reminding “in a simple and understandable style, that beyond the news and scoops, there are always feelings, stories, flesh and blood people to be respected as if they were your own relatives.”
“Go against the grain: to speak about fraternity in an individualistic world; about peace in a world at war; about attention to the poor in an intolerant and indifferent world,” he urged, adding however that “this can be done credibly only if you first bear witness to what you say.”