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The evangelizing mission in the digital era

· Speech by Archbishop Celli at the first communications seminar for the bishops of Brazil ·

“If the Church does not become aware of the cultural changes that are occurring due to the system of communications currently in use, we will have much difficulty evangelizing in the near future.”

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, does not mince words when he describes the challenges presented by new technology to the evangelizing mission of pastors in the digital era. His warning was heard recently in Rio de Janeiro, where he spoke at the first seminar on communications for the bishops of Brazil. Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida and President of the National Bishops Conference presided. The meeting was the result of a similar seminar held in Rome in 2008, and testified to the sympathy felt between the Brazilian Bishops Conference and the dicastery of the Holy See.

Amongst the important challenges there is above all that of language. “We can dialogue with the world,” said Archbishop Celli, “only if we find spaces of common understanding which will allow us to understand and listen to men and women of today, who often feel profoundly alone. As pastors, we must continue to promote spaces for respectful dialogue, eliminating aggressive communication, even within the Church, because it does not reflect the search for Truth.” Archbishop Celli cited the example of how a vision of reality for a child or adolescent is changed when Internet, videogames, virtual reality, social networks and mobile phones become a normal part of his existence. “There is no doubt,” commented Celli, “that it is not just the language of new generations which has changed, but also the cultural and anthropological context.” Still, for the bishops, the mission remains the same: to enact the new evangelization; new in ardor, in methods and expression, making present in this new social and cultural context, the work which the Lord entrusted to the apostles and through them, to all pastors of the Church.

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