I recently had the opportunity to participate in a one week international meeting of NetOne. NetOne is a new initiative of the worldwide Focolare Movement aimed at promoting peace, truth, and universal brotherhood through the mass media.
NetOne was born in 2000 as an effort to breathe new life into the digital age, and to respond to John Paul II's call to awaken the "sleeping giant of evangelization." It aims to promote unity through its growing network of professionals from across the world who are committed to actualizing the great power of the mass media to build bridges between different religions, cultures and ethnicities.
From June 18-23 a gathering of 60 young professional and students from 14 different nations gathered to deeper explore their vocations, and to gain a better understanding of how their chosen profession can be an authentic expression of their greatest hopes and ideals.
The week long meeting gave me a renewed appreciation for the many possibilities of media and faith working together. We listened to a talk given by Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, regarding the birth of NetOne. Chiara's speech focused on the great potential the media possesses to build universal brotherhood. The present historical context is quite ideal according to Chiara who wrote:
At the very moment in which humanity seems to be wandering in the dark after the fall of strong ideologies and the blurring of may values, at the very moment in which there is longing for a more united world and a demand for universal brotherhood, at this very moment we find ourselves equipped with these powerful means of communication, a sign of the times which says "unity" can we not see the hand of God?
That optimism and excitement to reclaim the positive potential of mass communications is a message that needs to resonate both in the newsrooms and boardrooms of the media elite and in the hearts of those working to spread the message of Jesus Christ and his Church.
I came away from NetOne emboldened to do my part to help build a model of communications that is not intrusive, but attentive to the needs of society; that does not tear apart others through competition, but is guided by an authentic relationship with the public; a media that does not exploit the suffering in people, but stops respectfully at the presence of God in each person.