Even with new media, actions speak louder than words, pope says

VATICAN CITY – While the church is looking for creative ways to evangelize through new media, the actions of Catholics always speak louder than words, said Pope Benedict XVI.

“Only love is worthy of belief and turns out to be credible,” he told participants of a meeting hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The virtuous lives of saints and martyrs fascinates and attracts others in a way words cannot, he said Nov. 13 at the Vatican.

“We need men and women who speak with their lives, who know how to communicate the Gospel with clarity and courage, with the transparency of their actions, and with the joyous passion of charity,” he said.

The pope spoke to members and invited speakers attending the council’s plenary assembly Nov. 10-13 on the theme, “The Culture of Communication and New Languages.”

Profound cultural change is under way today with new technologies and modes of communication, the pope said.

Priests and lay Catholics have noted, “with concern, some difficulties in communicating the Gospel message and conveying the faith within the church community itself,” he said.

The church not only faces the challenge of evangelizing people who are indifferent to or unaware of the Christian message, it must also “persuasively re-proclaim the word of God” to Christians so that they can “concretely experience the power of the Gospel,” said the pope.

Often the Gospel message is presented to people in a way that is “not so effective or engaging,” he said.

The church seeks to commit itself to its mission of communicating the Gospel “with renewed creative dedication, but also with a critical sense and attentive discernment” of the new modes of communication available today.

Many young people are “numbed by the infinite possibilities offered by the Internet and other technologies” as they take part in methods of communication that risk increasing a sense of solitude and disorientation, he said.

The pope reiterated his concern for this “educational emergency” that the church and others must respond to with “creative intelligence.” People must promote communication that upholds human dignity and encourages “a critical sense and the ability to evaluate and discern” what has real worth in the plethora of information available, he said.

While the church works to improve the way it presents its message and show God’s true face, he said it will also seek to “purify, bring balance to, and elevate” the best characteristics of new media and forms of communication so that new technology can be at the service of the whole human being and world community.

The church wants to engage in dialogue with everyone, but in order to communicate in a way that is fruitful and effective, “it is necessary to be on the same wavelength in friendly and sincere settings,” he said.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.