The Priest and the Salesian in the Digital World

Fr. Filiberto

Don FilibertoFr Filiberto Gonzalez, Salesian Councillor for Social Communication, gives his commentary on the message of Benedict XVI for the 44th World Communications Day: “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.”

With his letter for the 43rd World Communications Day for 2009, Pope Benedict XVI invited people to reflect on the new technologies and the consequent relationships which arose. In the short document he dealt with three principles for encounter: respect, dialogue and friendship entrusting to the young the evangelisation of their peers in the digital continent.


As I see it, that letter had a strong Salesian flavour, because of the theme, the people it was mainly aimed at and the confidence with which the Pope gave the young people the task of evangelising their friends in their  “native/virtual” environment.

The theme of the message this year follows the same lines and continues along the  path the Church is following in this Year of the Priest. . It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God.
Referring to St Paul, to the evangelising mission, the Pope mentions the two Letters of the Apostle to the Romans and to the Corinthians to provide the incentive not to neglect the new technologies. In the message we read: : “The Scripture says, `No one who believes in him will be put to shame … everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.` But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).” Further on he says: : “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)

On this account the presence of the priest and the religious in this field is not just a question of personal taste or capacity, but of an ecclesial mission: ‘Jesus said to them: Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16, 15). Even though we may not know where it will take us we are called to evangelise this newly emerging digital world inhabited by new creatures, the digital natives.
This needs formation. The Pope says that it is necessary to link together “, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “Web”.
For us Salesians, the invitation which comes from this message of the Pope is joined with that which the Rector Major offers with the  Strenna for 2010: listen to want the young want: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Imitating Don Rua, the first successor of Don Bosco, we are called to be  authentic disciples and zealous apostles in bringing the Gospel to the young. And nowadays this cannot be done without using the languages and technologies they are so fond of.

We have strong reasons calling us to be Salesian evangelisers, educators and communicators. Nothing should keep Christ shut up in the tomb of the past; He is alive, risen and present in history.

We need to look at the new culture with the eyes of hope; it is an opportunity, a gift we have received from God. Don Bosco and Don Rua, would certainly have moved into this new digital world.

The 44th World Communications Day will be kept on Sunday 16 May 2010, the full text of the message.


Source: Info ANS