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Pope Francis: Follow St. Paul’s wisdom when using tech to spread the Gospel

"It is necessary to integrate the message itself into the new culture created by modern communication"

Pope Francis has pointed to St. Paul as a model for Catholics who seek to use the latest technologies to communicate the Gospel.

In a message delivered to the Society of Saint Paul on June 18, the pope encouraged the Catholic religious congregation to continue “using the most effective and up-to-date means of communication to bring the Good News to people where and how they live.”

He told the priests, who work in a communications apostolate, not to forget St. Paul’s message in the Letter to Romans to not be conformed to this age, but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds.

“Paul does not say transform the world, but … ‘let yourselves be transformed,’ that is, make room for the only subject who can transform you: the Holy Spirit, the Grace of God,” he said.

“It is therefore first of all the mentality that must be changed, converted, and assimilated to that of Jesus, in order to help spread in society a way of thinking and living based on the Gospel. This is a great challenge for the Church …” Pope Francis added.

“Indeed, it is not enough to use the means of communication to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church; it is necessary to integrate the message itself into the new culture created by modern communication,” he said.

The Society of Saint Paul was founded in Italy in the early 20th century by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, who also founded the Daughters of St. Paul, also known as the Media Nuns.

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“From St. Paul you learn anew the passion for the Gospel and the missionary spirit, which, being born from his ‘pastoral heart,’ pushed him to make himself everything to everyone,” Pope Francis wrote in the message delivered to the Pauline priests.

“And now, after the early days of euphoria for technological innovations, we are aware that it is not enough to live ‘online’ or ‘connected,’ we need to see to what extent our communication, enriched by the digital environment, actually creates bridges and contributes to the construction of the culture of encounter,” he said.

During the audience at the Vatican with the participants in the Society of Saint Paul’s 11th general chapter, the pope decided to hand out his pre-written message and to speak off the cuff, rather than reading the speech aloud.

Pope Francis warned in his impromptu comments that there is much “disinformation” in today’s media, “where one thing is said but many others are hidden.”

The pope said that “bad communication distorts reality.” He called on the media apostolate not only to communicate clearly, but to help “redeem communication from the state it is in today” – full of slander and scandals.

“We must make sure that this does not happen in our communication of the faith … that the message comes precisely from our vocation, from the Gospel, crisp, clear, and witnessed with our own lives,” he said.

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