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New Vatican document: In social media, one is either a Good Samaritan or an indifferent bystander

The Vatican's communication dicastery members attended the press conference for the document 'Towards Full Presence' on Monday, May 29. (Photo: Screenshot from YouTube featuring Vatican News)

Known as Towards Full Presence, the document presented by the Vatican's Dicastery of Communication to the media on May 29 stated, "Even on social media, we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders."

The document also said that if people looked back at chapters of their lives, they would find out that they could have been the characters in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

"And if we extend our gaze to the history of our own lives and that of the entire world, all of us are, or have been, like each of the characters in the parable," the document said. "All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan."

People with social media connections through the digital space might still opt to be indifferent to each other despite their digital relationship.

"All of us can be passersby on the digital highways, simply 'connected,' or we can do something like the Samaritan and allow connections to grow into true encounters," the document said.

A social media user would be a good Samaritan if he stumbled upon a fellow user in dire straits, and he would help him out.

"The casual passerby becomes a neighbor when he cares for the wounded man by dressing his wounds," the document stated. "In caring for the man, he aims to heal not only the physical wounds but also the divisions and animosity that exist between their social groups."

The Vatican document also recognizes that social media is a powerful tool for the Church's mission.

"On March 27, 2020," it stated, "while still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saint Peter’s Square was empty but full of presence. A televised and live-streamed transmission allowed Pope Francis to lead a transformative global experience: a prayer and message addressed to a world in lockdown."

Online social media has connected people in quarantine and lockdowns during the pandemic.

"This document is addressed to everyone, not just believers, not just professionals, because the social media environment involves us all," said Paolo Ruffini, dicastery perfect.

The document, Ruffini noted, is a response to the many questions asked of the dicastery since its establishment in 2015.

"So, it is a result of the journey we made together," he said.

Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, dicastery secretary, sees social media as a tool that could be transformed into a culture to serve the good of many and not just a few.

"Moving from a tool to a culture is essential because tools are used," he said. "Culture is inhabited. And tools are used for oneself while culture is shared with others."

Pope Francis formally established the Dicastery of Communication on June 29, 2015.

Ruffini stressed that the document is a pastoral reflection.- Oliver Samson


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.