MAY 19, 2013, Vol 63, No 10

WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY MESSAGE: Social networks need more love and kindness: Vatican

Buddhist monks taking part in a parade in New Delhi, India. CNS photoBuddhist monks taking part in a parade in New Delhi, India. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – Catholics and Buddhists share “a profound reverence for life” which should motivate them to work together to protect human life, including the life of the unborn, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“It is urgent for both Buddhists and Christians, on the basis of the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions, to create a climate of peace to love, defend and promote human life,” the cardinal said in a message marking Vesak Day.

Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesak Day, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha. The message for 2013 was released by the Vatican on May 2.

“Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of a dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions,” Cardinal Tauran said, and he reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s belief that individuals have a moral obligation to love and protect life and all of creation.
  Illustration of a human foetus in a womb. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together various experts to discuss the topic, The Emergence of the Human Being. CNS illustration Illustration of a human foetus in a womb. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together various experts to discuss the topic, The Emergence of the Human Being. CNS illustrationScientists, theologians and philosophers meet to discuss major issues surrounding human evolution

VATICAN CITY – Evolutionary science is still grappling with understanding how the human species, with its unique capacities for language, culture, abstract reasoning and spirituality, may have emerged from a pre-ape ancestor.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that God “in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life”, the Church still considers the scientific investigation of the origins of humanity to be a valuable contribution to human knowledge.

In its continuing dialogue with renowned scientific experts, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together evolutionary biologists, palaeoanthropologists, archaeologists, neuroscientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the major physical and cultural changes that occurred during mankind’s evolution.

I love the digital world, the Internet, by whatever name.

This morning, I paid bills, made an airline reservation, refilled a prescription, communicated with my physician and planned for a visit from longtime friends coming to town. That was before draining the second cup of coffee.

I’d rather suffer outage of the telephone and cable. I have to admit, however, that as a tool of genuine communication and for the exchange of thoughts, the digital world has yet to fully mature.

It has the potential to be an open public forum where people share ideas, information and opinions, where new relationships and community can occur, Pope Benedict XVI said in this year’s message for World Communications Day.
– Fr James Martin (above)– Fr James Martin (above)Describing a recent story in America magazine, Jesuit Fr James Martin tweeted the following: “They will know we are Christians by our love, but probably not by our FB profiles.”

The sentence captured – within Twitter’s 140-character limit – the findings in a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute telling of Americans’ use of social media and how they present themselves to others online.

Fifty percent of Americans who use Facebook say they do not describe their religious beliefs at all on their Facebook profile. Of those who do, nine percent of them self-identify as Catholics.

The survey also pointed to the heavy use of social media by younger generations who, with the help of smartphones, take photos and videos of worship services, are more likely to report to others that they’re in a particular church or use devices to download sermons and other religious material.

Some see this use of technology as a great opportunity to reach the faithful online and use it to spread the Gospel.