Holy See Wants "Digital Society" Accessible to All

At U.N., Representative Affirms a Right to Information

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NEW YORK, OCT. 18, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- New technologies should be tapped for «concrete efforts to build a more inclusive digital society which will reduce the widespread ‘info-poverty,'» the Holy See urged at the United Nations.

«The Holy See recognizes the right to information and its importance in the life of all democratic societies and institutions,» said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations. He was addressing a commission of the U.N. General Assembly on «Questions Relating to Information.»

«The exercise of the freedom of communication should not depend upon wealth, education or political power,» the prelate said last Thursday. «The right to communicate is the right of all.

«Freedom of expression and the right to information increase and develop in societies when the fundamental ethics of communication are not compromised, such as the pre-eminence of truth and the good of the individual, the respect for human dignity, and the promotion of the common good.»

It is here that «new technologies have an important role to play in the advancement of the poor,» the Holy See’s permanent observer said. «As with health and education, access to the wealth represented by communications would certainly benefit the poor, as recipients of information to be sure, but also as actors, able to promote their own point of view before the world’s decision makers.»

A success story

Archbishop Migliore cited the experience of the Holy See in setting up «a unique continentwide initiative called the Digital Network of the Church in Latin America» — the «Red Informática de Iglesia en América Latina,» RIIAL — «which promotes the adoption of digital technologies and programs in media education, especially in poor areas.»

«The success of this project,» the archbishop said, «has drawn the attention of the Observatory for Cultural and Audiovisual Communication in the Mediterranean and in the World and other international organizations.»

Mindful of the possibility of new communications technologies, the prelate expressed hope «that the Second Phase of the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Tunis shortly, will lead to further concrete efforts to build a more inclusive digital society which will reduce the widespread ‘info-poverty.'»

«It would be well if a new dynamic were created which goes beyond the political and commercial logic usually at play in these fields,» he added.

«The Information Society should be one endowed with the ability, capacity and skills to generate and capture new knowledge and to access, absorb and effectively use information, data and knowledge with the support of information and communication technology,» said Archbishop Migliore.


Yet, the ease of access to information of this type makes it necessary «to protect the most vulnerable, such as children and young people, especially in the light of the increase of content featuring violence, intolerance and pornography,» the Holy See representative said.

«Perhaps the most essential question raised by technological progress is whether, as a result of it, people will grow in dignity, responsibility and openness to others,» he added.

At the same time, Archbishop Migliore emphasized that «there is a fundamental need to develop an ability to discern information received, given the enormous sea of information available. This process can flourish only where there is a recognized hierarchy of values.»

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