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Monday, February 07, 2005

New World Man

I am very grateful that the Curia of the Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Malta has taken the time to respond to my comments regarding the Archbishop's views on the Internet. Since neither the Archbishop nor the Curia have a blog, they chose to comment via The Malta Independent, a newspaper that reported what I said on my blog, as it was reproduced in Robert Micallef's Wired Temples.

The statement released by Charles Buttigieg, the Archbishop's Curia Public Relations Officer, paints a picture which is less dark than the one conveyed during the Archbishop's sermon from a couple of weeks ago. Regretfully, however, there is still a fundamental misconception about the open nature of the Internet. That is to say, I am still not convinced that the Archbishop's Curia sees that the Internet is not only a mass medium like the traditional mass media, and a means for personal communication like the telephone, but it is also a forum within which hierarchies are broken. With the Internet, everyone potentially has an equal voice.

It is for this reason that I find the following sentence to be a reiteration of the issue that drove me to write about the Archbishop's position in the first place: "The Internet offers extensive knowledge, but it does not teach values; and when values are disregarded, our very humanity is demeaned and man easily loses sight of his transcendent dignity." The apparent logic in this statement is based on a huge fallacy because the Internet does not disregard values. This is why I have a hard time with the Curia's point of view.

Our discussion on this issue is a way to "teach values" via the Internet. Modestly speaking, I'm teaching my values to the Archbishop's Curia. I value subjectivity. My values do not disregard the Curia's values. They simply question the essence of the Internet as understood by the Curia. Any one of us can teach or disregard values (ours or other peoples) but the Internet in itself does not have this discretion. That is not only a technical fact but also its intrinsic value.

The problem is underlined by the way the Archbishop's Curia has engaged in discussion with me so far. They did not send me an email, even though it is very easy to contact me via my website. Mr Buttigieg did not leave a comment on my blog, as many blog readers have done over the past several months. Neither was the statement sent to the newsroom, even though it is fully accredited by the Department of Information and thus on the PRO's office contact list.

Will today's blog entry suffer the same fate as my first one on this subject? If it does, more people will hear about this little discussion of ours. If not, then my concern for the Archbishop's understanding of the Internet was/is well placed.

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