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19 May 2009

Archbishop Tartaglia urges "digital generation" to embrace new technology.

In a pastoral letter sent to all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes to be read at all Masses on 23 and 24 May, Bishop Philip Tartaglia, the President of the Bishops' Conference National Communications Commission has urged responsible use of new technology.

The bishops message which echoes the theme of Pope Benedict XVI's message for Communications Sunday (24 May 2009) points out that " the lives of all of us have been changed mostly for the better by digital technology in all its forms" however he adds a note of caution saying; " with opportunities, come dangers.   What parent has not wondered what their child is doing on the internet?     What material are they accessing?     Who are they talking to in social networking sites?"

Archbishop Tartaglia also highlights the fact that much communication is often "inane chatter", which does nothing to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. He concludes; "The fact that we can instantly communicate doesn t mean that we must. We should avoid an obsessive need for virtual connectedness and develop primary human relationships, pursuing true friendship with real people."

The message also includes an appeal to Catholics to support the work of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO) through a special collection.

The full text of Archbishop Tartaglia's letter is shown below.

ENDS


Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168
07968 122291  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org


Notes to Editors:

1. To mark Communications Sunday the SCMO has produced an online video of the message which includes footage of pupils at St. Luke's High School in Barrhead demonstrating how they use social networking sites and text messaging to Archbishop Tartaglia. The video will be posted on "You Tube" and at www.scmo.org on 21 May 2009.


2. Still photographs of the Bishop with St. Luke's pupils are available from SCMO
 
Message for 43rd World Communications Day
Sunday 24 May 2009
(to be read out at Masses on 23 and 24 May)
 
There can be little doubt that the lives of all of us have been changed mostly for the better by digital technology in all its forms:   mobile phones, computers and the internet.
 
This new technology is the subject of Pope Benedict XVI s Message for Communications Sunday 2009.   In his message, entitled New Technologies, New Relationships:   Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship Pope Benedict is very positive about these developments recognising that they permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to every corner of the world.  
 
He calls this new technology a gift to humanity , a gift which needs to be put at the service of every person and community, a gift which needs to contribute to human development and genuine social progress, especially in bringing solidarity, education and new opportunities to poor and disadvantaged peoples.
 
Young people and even children have sensed the potential of digital technology.     Adults often look on in wonder and no little envy at their children s easy mastery of seemingly complex technology.     The Pope calls these young people the digital generation and his message is addressed in a special way to them.
 
Yet with opportunities, come dangers.   What parent has not wondered what their child is doing on the internet?     What material are they accessing?     Who are they talking to in social networking sites?     Is someone intimidating or bullying their child by nasty or vicious text messages?   As we know only too well, adults too are sadly not immune from such misuse and abuse of new technology.
Pope Benedict is aware of this too.     He warns: It is important to focus not just on (technology s) undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means.     I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.  
On the matter of respect the Pope rightly warns against the misuse of language and images.     We should always avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, debase human sexuality and exploit the vulnerable.
 
In dialogue with others we need to be wary of the inane chatter that can go on in the digital world which does nothing to promote growth in understanding and tolerance.
When it comes to friendship it would be profoundly sad, if, in the Pope s words; our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation.   The fact that we can instantly communicate doesn t mean that we must.     We should avoid an obsessive need for virtual connectedness and develop primary human relationships, pursuing true friendship with real people.
In particular the Pope asks young people, the digital generation, to take on responsibility for the evangelization of the digital continent , sharing with other young people the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all people.     The Pope invites young people to be the heralds of the good use of digital technology!
Here in Scotland the Church has been quick to embrace new technology to transmit its message to the new generation.   The website of our National Media Office www.scmo.org <http://www.scmo.org>   contains news releases and briefings on the work of the Church as well as audio and video content.     What s more, each diocese and many parishes have their own website offering information and detail never before available, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection.  
 
From today, I am delighted to announce that our Media Office website will also include video content from the Vatican s new You Tube video channel for viewing and download.
 
Lastly, I appeal to you to remember the great work which our small but dedicated team of Catholic communicators do in Scotland and ask you to be generous in supporting this Communications Sunday collection in order to help the Church strive to uphold the truths we hold dear in the ever-more challenging world of digital communications.
 
Yours devotedly in Christ
 
+PhilipTartaglia
Bishop of Paisley
President, National Communications Commission

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