ROME – In his prayer video for June, Pope Francis asked that digital communications and social media platforms would be a place of inclusion and encounter, rather than isolation and “alienation.”
In the video, published June 5, the pope opened saying the internet “is a gift from God, but it is also a great responsibility.”
Text of the subtitles pop up on the screen like chat messages with a notification sound as Francis continued, saying, “communication technology, its places, its instruments, have brought with it a lengthening of horizons, a widening for so many people.”
“It can offer immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” he said, and voiced hope that digital networks would “not be a place of alienation.”
“May it be a concrete place, a place rich in humanity,” he said, as scenes were shown of either individuals or groups of people looking at computers and cellphones while interacting with each other, rather than seeming alone and isolated.
Francis finished the prayer asking for Catholics to join him in praying “that social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.”
An initiative of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer, the pope’s prayer videos are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and mark the first time the pontiff’s monthly prayer intentions have been featured on video.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the monthly videos on the pope’s intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1884 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the organization has received a monthly, universal intention from the pope. In 1929, an additional, missionary intention was added.
However, as of last year, rather than including a missionary intention, Francis opted to have only one prepared prayer intention – the universal intention featured in the prayer video – and will add a second intention for an urgent or immediate need should one arise.
Francis, who has been outspoken on the need to use digital communications to spread truth and solidarity, himself has a large following on social media, with some 47 million followers on Twitter and more than 5 million on Instagram.