AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE
4 July 2019
Social Justice Statement 2019–2020
‘Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world’
Social Justice Sunday will be celebrated this year on 29 September. I am writing to inform you about the Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement and how you can access it.
The 2019–2020 Statement, titled ‘Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world’, considers the great changes that modern communications technology has brought to our lives. It has revolutionised the way we communicate, work and learn, do business and socialise. Here in Australia over 20 million people are on the internet and 18 million are using social media. For us as Church, there are so many new opportunities to share the Good News of Christ, to bring communities together and to reach out to people in need.
For all these advances, however, there are some serious challenges. The Statement highlights how the dignity of vulnerable people is harmed by online bullying and exploitation. The common good is compromised where certain groups are excluded from the benefits of technology. People’s privacy has been undermined when personal data has been appropriated for financial gain. The solidarity of entire communities can be placed at risk by campaigns of misinformation and the spread of ‘fake news’.
Pope Francis is calling us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’ and to ensure it is a place of genuine human encounter. We all have a role in making this new digital world one where hatred and divisions are rejected and our love of God and neighbour is fostered always.
The Statement will be launched in early September. For your convenience, and to improve efficiency, we are now offering online ordering. You can pre-order the Statement now at bit.ly/socialjusticeshop. Alternatively, you can use the attached order form if you would prefer to place your order through the Office for Social Justice. In the attached summary sheet there is a suggested notice that can be used by parishes, schools and groups as Social Justice Sunday approaches.
I commend this Statement to every parish, school and Church network and invite you to promote it as widely as possible.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop of Brisbane
The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2019 – 2020, ‘Making it Real: ‘Genuine human encounter in our digital world’, affirms the positive possibilities for encounter and solidarity offered by new digital media, while warning of those elements of our digital world that may be harmful. These include information overload; social isolation; marginalisation of the vulnerable; consumerism and fake news.
The Statement reminds us that the new digital media cannot be seen as neutral or ‘unaffected by any moral considerations’. While many users do not realise it, the core business of social media platforms is to sell advertising and maximise profits. People’s personal lives may be reduced to data that is traded for profit or power, and it is used to target and influence us in ways previously unthinkable. Pushing users to more extreme positions and promoting fake news and conspiracy theories sells, but this is at odds with human solidarity.
The Statement amplifies Pope Francis’ call to us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’, with the image of the Good Samaritan as our inspiration. We are called not only to love our neighbour, but to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood. The Statement points out that we are called not just to be inhabitants of this new digital world, but active citizens shaping it. All of us – whether we are users, communities, industrial or political leaders – have a role to play in rejecting hatred, divisions and falsehoods. We have a duty to foster a
neighbourhood that promotes those human attributes and social values that lend themselves to genuine human encounter – love, understanding, beauty, goodness, truth and trustworthiness, joy and hope.
The Bishops are asking for your help to promote the Statement in the weeks leading up to Social Justice Sunday.
A notice for your parish bulletin or newsletter could be:
We celebrate Social Justice Sunday on 29 September. This year, the Australian Bishops’ Social Justice Statement is titled: ‘Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world’. It shares Pope Francis’ challenge to us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’. It points out that we are called not just to be inhabitants of this world, but active citizens shaping it.
For further details about the Social Justice Statement, visit the Office for Social Justice website
(www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au) or call (02) 8306 3499. Order the Statement online at:
Download resources free of charge from the Office for Social Justice website
(www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au/publications/social-justice-statements) before Social Justice Sunday. They will include Social Justice Sunday Liturgy Notes, a PowerPoint presentation and resources for schools and social justice groups.
Summary: Social Justice Statement 2019–2020
‘Making it Real: Genuine Human Encounter in our Digital World’