Pope Francis on Sunday decried the increasing use of social media in a “culture of insults” during his Pentecost Mass that celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Apostles.
The pontiff told the thousands of faithful in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square in “the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming.”
That has led to anger.
“Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults,” Francis said.
Rather than trade harsh words he recommended responding “to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.”
He said the lack of harmony in today’s world has led to “stark division.”
“There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born,” Francis said.
He decried the temptation to cling “our little group, to the things and people we like,” adding “it’s only a “small step from a nest to a sect, even within the church.”
Instead he pledged unity.
“The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness,” he said.
The pope continued saying God “looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions.”
After the Mass, the Vatican released a papal “Message for World Mission Day 2019.”
Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, the annual day encourages prayers, cooperation and help for missions.
He noted Pope Benedict XV’s call after the devastation of World War I “for an end to all forms of nationalism and ethnocentrism, or the merging of the preaching of the Gospel with the economic and military interests of the colonial powers.”
And it still applies, he said.
“Today too, the Church needs men and women who, by virtue of their baptism, respond generously to the call to leave behind home, family, country, language and local Church, and to be sent forth to the nations, to a world not yet transformed by the sacraments of Jesus Christ and his holy Church,” Francis said. “By proclaiming God’s word, bearing witness to the Gospel and celebrating the life of the Spirit, they summon to conversion, baptize and offer Christian salvation, with respect for the freedom of each person and in dialogue with the cultures and religions of the peoples to whom they are sent. “
The pope noted that “the church’s universal mission requires setting aside exclusivist ideas of membership in one’s own country and ethnic group.”
He added: “No one ought to remain closed in self-absorption, in the self-referentiality of his or her own ethnic and religious affiliation.”
The message concluded donations to the Pontifical Mission Societies “serve the Church’s universality as a global network of support for the Pope in his missionary commitment by prayer, the soul of mission, and charitable offerings from Christians throughout the world.”