Date: Sat, 21 Nov 92 10:10:02 -0500 Subject: JP2: Computer Culture This statement has been
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 92 10:10:02 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eric James Ewanco)
Subject: JP2: Computer Culture
This statement has been issued by Pope John Paul II in connection with
WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY, May 27, 1990.
"CHURCH MUST LEARN TO COPE WITH COMPUTER CULTURE"
By Pope John Paul II
In one of her Eucharistic Prayers, the Church addresses God in
these words: "You formed man in your own likeness and set him over
the whole world to serve you, his Creator, and to rule over all
creatures" (Eucharistic Prayer IV).
For man and woman thus created and commissioned by God, the
ordinary working day has great and wonderful significance. People's
ideas, activities and undertakings -- however commonplace they may be
-- are used by the Creator to renew the world, to lead it to
salvation, to make it a more perfect instrument of divine glory.
Almost 25 years ago, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council,
reflecting on the Church in the modern world, declared that men and
women, serving their families and the community in their ordinary
occupations, were entitled to look upon their work as "a prolongation
of the work of the Creator ... and as their personal contribution to
the fulfillment in history of the divine plan" ("Gaudium et Spes,"
As the council fathers looked to the future and tried to
discern the context in which the Church would be called upon to carry
out her mission, they could clearly see that the progress of
technology was already "transforming the face of the earth" and even
reaching out to conquer space (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 5).
They recognized that developments in communications technology,
in particular, were likely to set off chain reactions with unforeseen
Far from suggesting that the Church should stand aloof or try to
isolate herself from the mainstream of these events, the council
fathers saw the Church as being in the very midst of human progress,
sharing the experiences of the rest of humanity, seeking to understand
them and to interpret them in the light of faith. It was for God's
faithful people to make creative use of the new discoveries and
technologies for the benefit of humanity and the fulfillment of God's
plan for the world.
This recognition of rapid change and this openness to new
developments have proved timely in the years that followed, for the
pace of changes and development has continued to accelerate.
Today, for example, one no longer thinks or speaks of social
communications as mere instruments or technologies. Rather they are
now seen as part of a still unfolding culture whose full implications
are as yet imperfectly understood and whose potentialities remain for
the moment only partly exploited.
Here we find the basis for our reflections on this 24th World
Communications Day. With each day that passes, the vision of earlier
years becomes ever more a reality. It was a vision which foresaw the
possibility of real dialogue between widely separated peoples, of a
worldwide sharing of ideas and aspirations, of growth in mutual
knowledge and understanding, of a strengthening of brotherhood across
many hitherto insurmountable barriers (cf. "Communio et Progressio,"
With the advent of computer telecommunications and what are
known as computer participation systems, the Church is offered further
means for fulfilling her mission. Methods of facilitating
communication and dialogue among her own members can strengthen the
bonds of unity between them. Immediate access to information makes it
possible for her to deepen her dialogue with the contemporary world.
In the new "computer culture" the Church can more readily inform
the world of her beliefs and explain the reasons for her stance on any
given issue or event.
She can hear more clearly the voice of public opinion and enter
into continuous discussion with the world around her, thus involving
herself more immediately in the common search for solutions to
humanity's many pressing problems (cf. "Communion et Progressio,"
It is clear that the Church must also avail herself of the new
resources provided by human exploration in computer and satellite
technology for her ever pressing task of evangelization. Her most
vital and urgent message has to do with knowledge of Christ and the
way of salvation which He offers. This is something she must put
before the people of every age, inviting them to embrace the Gospel
out of love, ever mindful that "truth cannot impose itself except by
virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness
and power" ("Dignitatis Humanae," 1).
As the wisdom and insights of past years teach us: "God has
spoken to humanity according to the culture proper to each age.
Similarly the Church, which in the course of time has existed in
varying circumstances, has used the resources of different cultures in
her preaching to spread and explain the message of Christ" ("Gaudium
et Spes," 58).
"The first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of
faith cannot do without the (means of social communication) ... the
Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not use these
powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is
through them that she proclaims `from the housetops' the message of
which she is the depositary" ("Evangelii Nuntiandi," 45).
Surely we must be grateful for the new technology which enables
us to store information in vast man-made artificial memories, thus
providing wide and instant access to the knowledge which is our human
heritage, to the Church's teaching and tradition, the words of Sacred
Scripture, the counsels of the great masters of spirituality, the
history and traditions of the local churches, of religious orders and
lay institutes, and to the ideas and experiences of initiators and
innovators whose insights bear constant witness to the faithful
presence in our midst of a loving Father who brings out of His
treasure new things and old (cf. Mt 13:52).
Young people especially are readily adapting to the computer
culture and its "language." This is surely a cause for satisfaction.
Let us "trust the young" ("Communio et Progressio," 70). They have
had the advantage of growing up with the new developments, and it will
be their duty to employ these new instruments for a wider and more
intense dialogue among all the diverse races and classes who share
this "shrinking globe."
It falls to them to search out ways in which the new systems of
data conservation and exchange can be used to assist in promoting
greater universal justice, greater respect for human rights, a healthy
development for all individuals and peoples, and the freedoms
essential for a fully human life.
Whether we are young or old, let us rise to the challenge of new
discoveries and technologies by bringing to them a moral vision
rooted in our religious faith, in our respect for the human person,
and our commitment to transform the world in accordance with God's
On this World Communications Day, let us pray for wisdom in
using the potential of the "computer age" to serve man's human and
transcendent calling, and thus to give glory to the Father from whom
all good things come.
JOHN PAUL II
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank