Denver, Colo., Sep 29, 2017 / 04:22 pm (CNA).- Some readers have noticed that the comment boxes on Catholic News Agency stories have disappeared from our website this week. We made this decision for two reasons.
The first reason is that most of the online discussions about our stories take place on social media, and our comment boxes were becoming less commonly used. It seemed like a good idea to focus the discussion in the place where most of the conversation was already taking place.
The second reason is a bit more abstract.
It is probably obvious to everyone that America is becoming more divided, and more reactive. The rules of public conversation are changing. Discussions have given way to arguments. Disagreements have given way to bickering. Differences seem to require feuding. “Cyber-bullying,” not long ago the purview of children, seems to have become a kind of cultural expectation, and deeply personal attacks seem to have become an ordinary part of our political and cultural dialogue.
It is probably naïve to imagine this hasn’t always been the case. The glorified days of yesteryear are always creations of our imaginations. But technology changes the way we relate to one another, and the intervention of some technology has made it easier to amplify our vitriol. It has become easier to isolate ourselves in like-minded groups, and to avoid and villainize anyone who doesn’t think like us.
Regrettably, this phenomenon has made its way into conversations among believers, who are united in the body of Christ.
Pope St. John Paul II taught that a culture of life is one in which human beings are united together in an authentic communion of love. He taught that sin replaces “relationships of communion with attitudes of distrust, indifference, hostility and even murderous hatred.”
The grace of Jesus Christ overcomes those attitudes, and enables us to live freely, in a civilization of love. In Christ, said John Paul, man is able to “rebuild lost fellowship and rediscover his true identity.”
I hope that Catholics will read our stories and consider them seriously. I also hope that after doing so, they’ll engage with the people around them, “rebuilding lost fellowship.” I hope our news coverage might foster real conversations in families, with coworkers, and among friends. I hope that our stories might be an occasion for discussion among people who disagree, and that such discussions might inculcate trust, respect, and charity.
The community discussing our news coverage online is a true and good community. But it is a beginning, not an end. I hope that reading our coverage might also be an occasion to put down the phone, or turn off the screen, turn to another person, and say, “I’ve just read something interesting.”