A 20-page document titled “Towards Full Presence: A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media” was published by the Vatican on May 29 that highlights the challenges faced by Christians in using social media. The pastoral reflection delves into a range of topics that include: the overwhelming amount of information we encounter, the habit of incessant scrolling, the tendency to not fully engage with others, being an “influencer,” bearing witness to Christ, the importance of taking a “digital detox,” the necessity of finding moments of silence, the practice of intentional listening, and the significance of fostering community in a diversified world. According to the pastoral reflection, the incessant demand for people’s attention on social media is compared to the process by which any temptation infiltrates the human heart, diverting our focus from the truly meaningful and life-giving message, which is the Word of God.
Catholic News Agency reports:
Attention #CatholicTwitter and keyboard warriors: The Vatican has released recommendations for how to better “love your neighbor” on social media.
The 20-page text, “Towards Full Presence: A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media,” published on May 29, addresses the challenges Christians face in using social media.
Topics covered in the pastoral reflection include information overload, constant scrolling, not giving others one’s full attention, being an “influencer,” witnessing to Christ, “digital detox,” the need for silence, intentional listening, and building community in a fragmented world.
“One significant cognitive challenge of digital culture is the loss of our ability to think deeply and purposefully,” it warns. “We scan the surface and remain in the shallows, instead of deeply pondering realities.”
The Vatican Dicastery for Communication published the document, which was signed by its lay prefect Paolo Ruffini and its Argentine secretary Monsignor Lucio A. Ruiz, who cite many of Pope Francis’ speeches from past World Communications Days.
The text is “not meant to be precise ‘guidelines’ for pastoral ministry,” the dicastery clarified, but seeks to promote a common reflection on how to foster meaningful and caring relationships on social media.
Robbing our attention
The Vatican’s pastoral reflection posits that social media’s constant demand for people’s attention “is similar to the process through which any temptation enters into the human heart and draws our attention away from the only word that is really meaningful and life-giving, the Word of God.”
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