The Catholic University of America

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, was interviewed by the Atlantic on the Pope and the internet. See below.

The Pope, Lonely on the Internet

From: Atlantic
Date: June 25, 2015
Author: Emma Green

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“I think the pope himself would realize that there’s something not really full and complete about the kinds of encounters one can get electronically, whether it’s tweeting or working with the media,” said Steve Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. “I think that the pope would recognize that to a certain extent, he’s … falling into the same trap.”

On the other hand, Francis isn’t using social media in the same way as most other people. For as long as it’s existed, the Church has used any available means to spread the word of Christ—through sermons and pamphlets, for example. Arguably, the Internet is the newest and most important megaphone for a religion that depends on evangelization, especially in areas of the world like Sub-Saharan Africa where both Christianity and mobile-phone adoption are growing rapidly. Where it was once up to priests and pilgrims to teach people about the faith, now mobile Internet connections make the teachings of the pope globally accessible, even in remote areas.

The pope seems to recognize this, nodding to the “exciting possibilities” created by digital communication. But the point he’s trying to make, Schneck says, is that “all of these modern media are not value neutral.” The whole encyclical is about the soaring glory of creation, and the human responsibility to care for it. “Devices and displays,” as the pope puts it, don’t allow humans to access “the infinite depth and the infinite height of things. The spiritual dimension can’t fit into that way of thinking,” Schneck says.

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