The prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication encouraged church communicators “to build a system of fellowship” and “bend the digital environment toward the good”.
“It is up to us to embody in the digital age the spirit of Pentecost. We can be the protagonists of our future,” said Dr. Paolo Ruffini on Wednesday during the 2023 Catholic Media Conference in Baltimore, United States of America.
Dr. Ruffini underscored the significance of communication as “a mutual gift of ourselves,” which he said is rooted in the relationship we establish with one another.
Communion and communication
He emphasized the early Christians’ ability to communicate through love and compassion, which made the world “so different, so attractive, so beautiful and so true that it changed the world itself by imprinting an indelible mark on it.”
“If we go back to the early Christians, we rediscover that this was their first source of communication. From this they were recognized,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of communion, stating that it is what makes us “members of one another” and “is the secret to the Church’s communication.”
“We must – I think – cling to this other word, that has the same etymological root as communication: communion,” he said.
Heart vs algorithm
Referring to the challenges of the modern era, Dr. Ruffini acknowledged the transformative power of technology and urged the audience to guide it with their hearts.
He mentioned the recent publication of a pastoral reflection on the Church’s engagement with social media, emphasizing the need to focus on the “human network, on the heart, not the algorithm.”
“The algorithm does not consider fragility. Love, however, love that we are called to witness, is born from fragility, born from being affected by another’s pain, by their emotion,” he said.
The Promised Land
He called for a conscious renegotiation of the rules of the digital society, advocating for transparency of algorithms and distinguishing between “soulless” data compilation and “storytelling with a soul.”
“We were searching for an order based on sharing the truth, but we find ourselves with a system filled with misinformation. But there is always a promised land,” he said.
The Vatican official said it is the duty of Catholic communicators to transform the digital world and “to take it away from the cold logic of the market, of profit.”
“It is our task to liberate online discourse from the one-sided dogmas of corporations or governments that run it, and hand it back to the criterion of the common good, of free sharing,” he said.
The conference, which runs from June 6 to 9, was organized by the Catholic Media Association, a global network of Catholic communicators that facilitates a wide variety of honors programs for its members and those in related fields.