STATEMENT BY H.E. ARCHBISHOP JOHN P. FOLEY,
PRESIDENT, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS
THE HOLY SEE
November 18, 2005
Modern information and communications technologies (ICTs),
of which the Internet is certainly the most evident expression, are now
having and will continue to have a profound impact on the economic, social
and cultural life of the human family.
This Summit is a unique opportunity on how to direct the
"information society" toward a constructive development, and on how to avoid
taking the wrong steps. What we are considering are not only "digital
opportunities", but also "digital dilemmas".
This process gives us the opportunity to connect and assist
those living in the poorest and most isolated regions of the world and to
offer a voice to those who in the past have often been unheard and
forgotten. On the contrary, if this process creates only new opportunities
for those who already enjoy a good living standard and excellent
communications possibilities, then our work will have been a failure.
The challenge of narrowing or even closing the so called
"digital divide", the current disparity in the access to digital
communications between developed and developing countries, requires the
joint effort of the entire international community.
More developed countries should assume the responsibility of
helping less developed nations to speed the process of computerization and
access to new communications media through financial support, transfer of
information technologies, commercial measures and cultural cooperation.
Just to mention an activity, even before the popularization
of the Internet, the Holy See had assisted in the development of "la Red
Informatica de la Iglesia en America Latina" (RIIAL) which has
made accessible to the most remote villages of the Amazon jungle and of the
Andes mountains not only current information but also cultural treasures
before found only in a few libraries.
Today, much commercial activity and even interpersonal
communication take place in an environment which many call virtual or
This new space, however, is very real indeed, and it is most
important that there will not be space in it, in so far as is possible, for
the tragic divisions and discrimination, the selfishness, the prejudices and
the injustices that have soiled so much of human history. Such things should
be remembered only to prevent their recurrence.
We are told that those who launched the World Wide Web did
not seek to profit financially from its development. It is also interesting
to note that an Internet that had originally been invented as an instrument
of communication in war has now become a far-reaching instrument of
development and of peace.
In the last major document which he published, "The Rapid
Development", Pope John Paul II noted:
"The modern technologies increase to a remarkable extent the
speed, quantity and accessibility of communication, but they above all do
not favour that delicate exchange which takes place between mind and mind,
between heart and heart, and which should characterise any communication at
the service of solidarity and love" (n. 13).
It is our responsibility to fill these gaps of humanity and
solidarity for the benefit of millions of people and for the next