By Reuters via NBC News
The Vatican on Monday urged bishops and lay Catholic leaders to moderate their comments on social media, saying some are causing division and stoking controversies that hurt the entire Church.
The appeal is part of a 20-page document from the Vatican's Department of Communication (titled Toward Full Presence. A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media) addressed to all Catholics around the world, warning of the danger of fake news on social networks and of the abuses that have turned people into commodities whose data is sold, often without their knowledge or consent.
[A car goes through Vatican gate: Gendarmes stop it with gunfire and arrest its driver]
The document condemns the polarization and extremism that have led to "digital tribalism" on social media, stating that individuals often lock themselves in silos of opinion that hinder dialogue and lead to violence, abuse and misinformation.
The "need" of migrants and the "very big favor" that Zelenskyy asked for: the second part of the interview with the pope
May 26, 202304:56
"The Christian style should be thoughtful, not reactive, on social media. Therefore, we must all be careful not to fall into the digital traps that hide content intentionally designed to sow conflict among users by provoking outrage or emotional reactions," the document states.
"The problem of contentious and superficial, and therefore divisive, communication is especially troubling when it comes from Church leaders: bishops, parish priests and prominent lay leaders," the document states.
Several conservative Catholic bishops and high-level commentators, mostly in the United States, have criticized Pope Francis on Twitter, and some have backed fierce far-right attacks in videos against the pontiff.
[Francis has a fever and lightens his work in the Vatican. This he told us exclusively about his health, asking them to pray for him]
"Unfortunately, broken relationships, conflicts and divisions are not alien to the Church. For example, when groups posing as Catholic use their social media presence to foment division, they do not behave as a Christian community should," the document states.
In the coming years, special attention will have to be paid to the advances of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Catholics will be urged to beware of the machines "that make our decisions for us."
In 2020, the Vatican joined forces with tech giants Microsoft and IBM to promote the ethical development of AI and call for regulation of intrusive technologies such as facial recognition.