There are a lot of opinions out there about the Internet — it's making us smarter, it's making us dumber, it's a time-waster, a world-changer — but here's one possibly coming straight from the heavens above — it's "a gift from God."
Those were the words of Pope Francis. In a statement released Thursday for the Catholic Church’s World Communications Day, the pope said the Internet "offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God." (Via The Vatican)
But the Argentine Pope was quick to point out some downsides of constant connectivity as well.
He noted the variety of opinions expressed on the Internet "enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas" and "can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us." (Via Euronews, CNN, The Vatican)
On top of that he added that high-speed communications might exceed our capacity for reflection and judgment. Surely, we're not talking about the same Internet.
Now, His Holiness isn't the first pope to embrace the Internet.
Back in 2002, Pope John Paul II reflected on the Internet in another statement for the Church's World Communications Day — although, at the time, he saw it more as a tool to recruit new Catholics than anything. (Via The Vatican)
And his successor, Pope Benedict, did his best to adapt to changing technology as well. Back in 2012, he sent the papacy's first-ever tweet from an iPad — although he didn't appear to have the technology quite mastered. (Via YouTube / romereports)
If you're wondering, that Twitter account, @Pontifex, is still up today — now sporting the online communiques of Pope Francis.
Overall, Pope Francis' statement about the Internet was a positive one, adding: "The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity. A network not of wires but of people." (Via The Vatican)
We'd like to see him tell that to a YouTube comments section.