The Problem of Online Media Values in the Context of Documents of the Church’s Magisterium Related to the Means of Communication
The paper analyses the main documents of the Church’s Magisterium that discuss the means of communication, with a particular focus placed on online media. Based on the Decree Inter mirifica on the means of social communication and on Communio et Progressio, pastoral instruction of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, the attitude of the Church’s Magisterium towards analogue and digital means of communication is compared, while the main ethical principles of the media declared in the documents are sought to be elucidated and adapted for current challenges that arise during the development of digital technologies. A particular priority is given to the development of the Church’s perspective towards the means of communication. The paper emphasises the central notion that any new (digital) technologies that serve dissemination of information and propagation of the human good are received positively by the Church. However, in spite of this, personal responsibility of each user of digital technologies is increasing.
Today we are facing a considerable challenge: the development of information tools and technologies, which affects not only the field of interpersonal communication, but also the much deeper and more fundamenta aspects of human personality. Virtuality, as the equivalent of an invisible entity, has been persistently invading the human (sub)consciousness and changing the value systems, including the dimension of faith. As a result of new technologies, the changes in how we perceive and assess the world have been so drastic that they undoubtedly need a quick and appropriate response. For this reason, in order to identify the personal and social vectors of morality, we need to examine the documents released by the Church’s Magisterium that discuss both media in general and the internet in particular.
Taking into account that the principal documents of the Church refer to the means of communication as “the gifts from God”, and communication is highly valued because Christ himself is called “Perfect Communicator”, ethical principles must apply not only to the published content but also to the process of its creation, the structure and the system of the means of communication. All three of these fields – matters of the content, process, structure, and system – adhere to the following fundamental ethical principle: a human and a community of humans is the purpose and measure of the usage of social communication means; communication should be human-to-human and it must serve the comprehensive development of a person. In the pursuit of the means to overcome verbal aggression, there is an increasing significance of shared commonality and creative cooperation, which, in the end, also depends on the person’s free will. The final value and significance of the means of communication are determined by the method of utilisation of human freedom.