Vatican Official Weighs In on "Digital Divide"

Archbishop Foley Addresses U.N. Summit

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TUNIS, Tunisia, NOV. 18, 2005 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications asked at a U.N. summit that the divide between rich and poor not exist on the Internet.

In his address delivered today at the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society, Archbishop John Foley described the summit as a unique opportunity to “direct the ‘information society’ toward a constructive development,” and “to avoid taking the wrong steps.”

“What we are considering are not only ‘digital opportunities,’ but also ‘digital dilemmas,'” he stated.

“This process gives us the opportunity to connect and assist those living in the poorest and most isolated regions of the world, and to offer a voice to those who in the past have often been unheard and forgotten,” he added.

“On the contrary, if this process creates only new opportunities for those who already enjoy a good living standard and excellent communications possibilities, then our work will have been a failure,” he said.

According Archbishop Foley, the "challenge of narrowing or even closing the so called ‘digital divide,’ the current disparity in the access to digital communications between developed and developing countries, requires the joint effort of the entire international community.”

“More developed countries should assume the responsibility of helping less developed nations to speed the process of computerization and access to new communications media through financial support, transfer of information technologies, commercial measures and cultural cooperation,” he said.

As an example of the Holy See’s commitment in this field, the American prelate mentioned the establishment of the Digital Network of the Church in Latin America, RIIAL, a project of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Latin American bishops’ council.

This network, Archbishop Foley said, “has made accessible to the most remote villages of the Amazon jungle, and of the Andes Mountains, not only current information, but also cultural treasures found before only in a few libraries.”

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