That sound you heard was St. Peter’s Basilica asking, “Has he ever heard of the Internet?”
The Pope is no stranger to making friends. Our fearless leader has been enjoying “Pope Francis: The PR Guy” series since the puff of white smoke went sailing into the March sky of Vatican City making Jorge Mario Bergoglio into the man, the myth, the legend.
Il Papa has not only made himself a friend to the common man, but also the digital one with his handle @Pontifex, which now has more than 3.5 million followers. So, an acolyte of his would think he’s savvy about the Web. And then, he says that?!
It was World Communications Day this week, kids. What did you do? The Pope spoke before hundreds of thousands about the merits and benefits of the Internet. Wait, what? In his humble opinion, the Interweb is a “tool that brings humanity closer together.”
“A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive,” Francis said. “Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good,” he added. “A gift from God.”
Not trying to rain on the Pontiff’s white-festooned parade, but does he realize what other people use the Internet to do? It was just last week that the Pope layeth the smacketh down on 400 priests for sexual abuse. I have $10 that says some of those “priests” knew the dark side of the Net.
Technology is a gift from God, I concur. However, what God has made for man … man will make for ill will of himself. If you don’t believe me, ask Google or Siri what is the most common use of the Internet. And then you will get a NSFW answer. However, technology was made to bring us all together — just not in that way, right?
“The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us,” the papal statement said. “We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.”
While it’s just about impossible to reject social media outside of an orthodox Amish community not interested in the warm glow of a TLC camera, people can abuse it. And that’s where I believe the Pope is doing his best representation of them all. Although it’s terribly unfair to paint all Catholics with the same perverted brush as a pedophile, the Pope is doing his best to show benefits to what others use malevolently.
And that is where he gets the biggest PR points of them all. There’s another quote with which Pope Francis is familiar:
Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it.
The man that echoed that sentiment knew a thing or two about being lumped in a few rotten apples, although he did nothing to deserve the bad press. You see, that man was Pope John Paul II, as in now Saint John Paul. I think Jorge is in good company, smartphone and all.