Texts, Internet, social networks are ‘gift of God’ if used wisely – Pope Francis

Published: January 22, 2016
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Pope Francis (L) meets the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Charles Angelo Savarin, during a private audience at the Vatican, on January 22, 2016.  PHOTO: AFP

Pope Francis (L) meets the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Charles Angelo Savarin, during a private audience at the Vatican, on January 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, who has acknowledged being “a disaster” when it comes to technology, said on Friday that the Internet, social networks and text messages were “a gift of God” if used wisely.

“Emails, text messages, social networks and chats can also be fully human forms of communication,” the pope said in his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Communications.

“It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal,” said.

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Last year, the 79-year-old Francis told a young girl he was embarrassed to admit that he did not know how to use computers and was an overall “disaster” with technology. He has also said smartphones should be banned from the family dinner and children should not have computers in their rooms.

Whether by divine providence or human coincidence, Francis’ message was released as he was meeting with the head of a company whose brand is synonymous with those products – Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.

In his message, the pope appeared to take a more conciliatory stand towards modern technology than in the past, saying “the Internet could be used to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing”.

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“Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarisation and division between individuals and groups,” he said.

Modern communications were “a gift of God which involves a great responsibility,” he said.

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