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Posted November 05, 2010 in The Pope's Corner:
Friendship Online

by Pope Benedict XVI.

The new digital technologies are indeed bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships….

The new digital technologies are indeed bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships….

Young people in particular have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication, and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as a means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, and of forming communities and networks….

The popularity of these new technologies should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire is rooted in our very nature as human beings….

Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships. I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching:

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and you must love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Mk 12:30-3l)….

The concept of friendship is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as human persons. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience.

We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop online friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbors, and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education, and recreation.

If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may, in fact, function to isolate individuals from real social interaction….

Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community.

Excerpted from the pope’s Message for the May 24, 2009 World Day of Communication. The message was given January 24th.

 

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