Facebook criticised by Archbishop

Social networking websites, texting and e-mails are undermining community life, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols said MySpace and Facebook led young people to seek “transient” friendships, with quantity becoming more important than quality.
He said a key factor in suicide among young people was the trauma caused when such loose relationships collapsed.
“Friendship is not a commodity,” he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
He added: “Friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it’s right”.

‘Transient relationships’

Archbishop Nichols said society was losing some of its ability to build communities through inter-personal communication, as the result of excessive use of texts and e-mails rather than face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations.
He said skills such as reading a person’s mood and body language were in decline, and that exclusive use of electronic information had a “dehumanising” effect on community life.

*’‘Facebook and MySpace might contribute towards communities, but I’m wary about it’’ *
Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Archbishop Nichols said that social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace encouraged a form of communication that was not in his words “rounded”, and would not therefore build rounded communities.

The Archbishop also warned of the danger of suicide among young people who threw themselves into a network of friendships that could easily collapse.
He said young people were being encouraged to build up collections of friends as commodities, and were left desolate when these transient relationships broke down.
“Facebook and MySpace might contribute towards communities, but I’m wary about it,” he told the newspaper.

"Among young people often a key factor in their committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships.

"They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they’re desolate.

“It’s an all-or-nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast.”


I have received many requests from facebook, by people asking that I be one of their facebook friends. I have responded with an e-mail, if it is from one whom I know explaining why I do not, and if I do not know the person or have their E-address, there is simply no response. :

I have quite a few Facebook friends, but they are generally people that I already know and am friends with in real life. I don’t see a breakdown coming, I see an opportunity to network and talk to people at odd hours :wink:

Ayn Rand once wrote that “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men”

By using these ‘social network’ services, we are encouraging the devolution of our culture into the same type of ‘it takes a village’ attitude that our Liberal Gov’t has and wants us all to have. Stand up by taking down your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.

I agree.

I use facebook and twitter to spread news and information. It is a tool, depending on how you use it, it can be harmful or you can use it for a good purpose. :slight_smile:

Catholics need to evangelize more and I think the internet is great for that.:slight_smile:

And I don’t think that involves ‘speaking only when necessary’ or whatever that rediculous saying is.

Language is how people communicate. Without speaking we could not spread the gospel.

Catholic voices need to be heard.

Agreed! The people who I friend on facebook are people who I know in real life. Personally, I think facebook is another great way to keep in touch with your friends. Not only that, facebook has reunited me with friends who I haven’t spoken to in quite a few years. So for me, Facebook is a blessing. A gift from God.

Yours in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Facebook is also very dangerous. Someone posted something about one of our lay teachers that created a legal mess. The comment was false and the teacher almost lost her job. One has to be very careful with friends that one makes in cyber space.

Cyber space can be a great tool for learning, evangelization and recreation. But like all tools, they are dangerous. Every tried playing games with an electric blade?


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

“Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words
—St. Francis of Assisi”

Is this it?

I’m so glad to find a Catholic who evangelizes by referring to a teaching of one of the greatest saints of the Church as “ridiculous”. If I’m not mistaken three papal encyclicals have referred to the speaker of this statement as:

  1. The Mirror of Perfection
  2. The Perfect Christian
  3. The Seraphic Father

“Preach often. But only if necessary, use words.” Brother Francis of Assisi to Brother Leo.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Thank you for handling this so eloquently. (My response was not going to be nearly this good.)

The feature of Facebook that I particularly resent is the ability of unwanted strangers and former (discarded) associates to contact & re-contact another Facebook member. Any parent needs to be concerned about this. Minors especially feel vulnerable, regarding the supposed necessity of a response. They believe that if they reject a friendship request, including by people they have no interest in, they will be regarded negatively.

In that same vein, Facebook is often used as a way to contact minors by people whom the parents have previously protected the children against (as bad influences). Those could be people outside the extended family, inside the extended family,

Invasion of personal privacy. Invasion of parental control/monitoring by previously rejected persons who now have found a way to circumvent the parents. Unwanted requests for partnering, often by older persons. (My children have complained about inappropriate adult friendship requests which make them feel uncomfortable because of the age difference alone – such as middle-aged distant relatives & associates of the family “befriending” teenagers. It makes them feel awkward, they’ve told me. They find it embarrassing behavior on the part of the adults.)

Yes, there is no requirement to join Facebook. But tell that to your modern teenager trying to keep legitimate connections with longstanding friends, for example. They consider a Facebook account an essential part of modern communication, despite its downsides. They consider it as essential as a phone and a computer. I think the whole “Friendship request” thing could be solved by having the owner of the account entirely in control of invitations for friendship. If the young owner especially desires to initiate contact with some legitimate relationship – such as a friend or family member whose location is unkown, the owner could announce that on his or her public Facebook page. (“So and so, please contact me here at Facebook if you have an account.”) But never should an owner be subject to random friendship requests and be made to feel pressured to accept the request.

I have also seen Facebook used by adults trying to get private information about other adults, through the teenage children of those adults. I’m surprised there have not been lawsuits about this, actually.

Maintaining proper Facebook friendships requires the same teaching as real-life friendships. It is the parents’ responsibility to give their children the self-esteem they need to ignore a “friend request”.

Your idea could work, but it would require a substantial reworking of how Facebook operates. Currently, most people have the setting that people not in their friend list cannot see their profile.

Well, as a parent I have given my children such self-esteem. It’s not any lack of self-esteem that is the problem. It’s the social standards among their peers that exhort them to be open and friendly. It is also the natural curiosity of teens that promotes them to answer such a request. They do not perceive the danger, where and when adults do. My children have never engaged in any other risky behavior, but Facebook, like other online enticements, appears deceptively unrisky, and in most Facebook cases people probably are fortunate enough to avoid risk or not become an unwitting victim.

I’m not talking about some weirdos approaching them necessarily, but those who appear harmless and claim to be a relative, a family member. My children have come to me and asked me first if they should respond – which I’m thankful for – but let me tell you in some cases it’s been difficult to explain to them why they shouldn’t respond to certain particular people, when the occasion appears innocent. (Such as when I was familiar with the person but they were not.) In other cases, as I mentioned, they have resented or been embarrassed by age-inappropriate requests by people who were known well to them and could have merely emailed or telephoned them.

I’m aware that older people do have their own Facebook accounts sometimes. I think the objection is not that those people have accounts, but that they do not respect the normal social boundaries of IRL friendship: true peer groups, not an “invasion” across age groups.

Yes, I don’t agree with that quote. Use words when necessary. The reason why is because the Catholic Church has dwindled so much this century. Catholics, in my view, do not seem to be evangelizing. Catholics seem to be oddly silent on most issues today. Most Churches I have been to are silent on important topics. I know of one Priest who got in trouble for a homily he gave. Why? Because people get MAD if you say the truth. People only want to hear political correct nonesense.
Oh, everyone can be saved. Oh, its all good no matter what religion you follow… oh, Obama is a good president, Oh… the Catholic Church doesn’t have any problems…oh, everything is so nice…oh…don’t say anything that will upset anyone…oh, just keep quiet and let people live their lives…

When I said I didn’t like that quote it is because I see it being used (I don’t know the context the Saint said it in)…by Catholics who are the same people who don’t seem to want to hear any ‘shocking’ opinions coming from anyone’s mouths.

It’s this whole hush hush thing. This idea that you don’t want to offend anyone. You should just be nice and quiet. Don’t rock the boat…etc. Just be a good Catholic and shut up.

I sincerely doubt that is the way to bring people to the Catholic faith. If everyone is too timid or afraid to speak out then no one will hear the truth and no one will speak the truth.

Political correctness has invaded the church and I don’t care if people disagree with me on that point.

I, as a new convert to Catholicism, apparently, according to JR, am not allowed to have any opinions? How odd? I thought everyone had opinions even Catholics.

Pity some Priests are not even allowed to state their opinions for fear of the lay people complaining. Well, if this is where the Church is at, where Priests cannot even deliver the truth as they see fit for fear of the ‘political correct’ police…then LOW and BEHOLD the times we are living in.

I firmly believe people should speak out. Yes, WORDS, not just live a quiet life and be afraid to offend others. Jesus offended people all the time. And yes, Jesus taught with WORDS! Amazing.

I don’t know the context the Saint used that sentiment in, but I am ALLOWED to disagree with it the Catholic Church is not a TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENT.

JR, is that an **infallible **teaching of the Catholic Church?

I suppose you only subscribe to those teachings of the Church that are formally defined ex cathedra? I suppose cafeteria Catholicism is not just for those on the Left.

The archbishop is right. Facebook and other online social forums are an evil which corrodes the ability of individuals to form genuine friendships. They ought to be shut down.

Our holy Father Francis made that comment when he handed the following decrees to the brothers and sisters of the order. He was very concerned that men and women would speak irreverently against the clergy and hierarchy. Francis was very aware of the corruption among the clergy and within the Church. But he was also aware that despite the corruption and even heresy, the Church has the final word on everything and there is no debating with the Church. Thus he describes perfect obedience as absolute silence and perfect humility. The good Catholic was to preach through is silence and humility. He required the same obedience and silence of the laity as he did of the Franciscans.

St. Bernard and St. Bruno also required the same of their followers and the laity around them. For this reason the Carthusians and the Cistercians are never allowed to say anything about the current issues in the Church, nor are their lay associates. The Carthusians actually have a command to ignore it all, becuase it places their spiritual life and prayer life in jeopardy.

Teresa of Avila gave the same command to her cloistered nuns and to the Secular Carmelites, as did Clare of Assisi. If you recall, Mother Angelica was almost excommunicated for a comment that she made about a bishop. She had to apologize in public and in writing. The bishop complained to the Council of Franciscan Superiors and they threatened with excommunication and with shutting down EWTN, because one must preach through Gospel living and only if necessary use words, but words may never offend the clergy or the hierarchy. I hope this helps understand Francis’ teaching and why three popes have written about him and his perfect observance of the Gospel.

Francis was inspired by his knowledge of the scriptures especially Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus himself. Here are the decrees that he gave to the brothers and sisters. Here are some of Brother Francis’ decrees taken from his rule and writings.

**Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.

The Lord says in the Gospel: he “that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be” a "disciple " and “he that will save his life, shall lose it.” That man leaves all he possesses and loses his body and his soul who abandons himself wholly to obedience in the hands of his superior, and whatever he does and says—provided he himself knows that what he does is good and not contrary to his [the superior’s] will—is true obedience. And if at times a subject sees things which would be better or more useful to his soul than those which the superior commands him, let him sacrifice his will to God, let him strive to fulfil the work enjoined by the superior. This is true and charitable obedience which is pleasing to God and to one’s neighbor.**

This is form of life is true evangelization according to St. Francis of Assisi.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Very few things that the Church teaches are under the umbrella of infallibility. But they do come under the umbrella of ordinary authority to which all of us are bound in charity and humility. We have to understand that part of becoming a Catholic is not just accepting what is infallible teaching, but what comes to us through authoritative teaching of the Church.

There was an excellent post on this in the Ask an Apologist thread. I believe it may have been yesterday or the day before. The poster asked if a pope who is a heretic can be deposed and whether or not he should be obeyed. The Apologist explained that even though not everything is infallible, some statements can even be heretical, obedience is still required by canon law. And she explained that being as the authority (in this case the pope) is the highest in the Church, he cannot be deposed and cannot be disobeyed. However, she also explained that the Holy Spirit will not allow a heresy to be taught as dogma, even though it may be taught.

The reason I point out to this particular question that was raised by the poster and so clearly explained by the apologist is because it applies to the doctors and great saints of the Church too. Their authority is not alway part of the infallible magisterium, but it does not fail to be authoritative if the Church subscribes to their teachings and the Church endorses them.

Now, in the case of our holy Father Francis, three encyclicals have endorsed his teaching, his spirituality and his way of life as that of the perfect Christian. This does not place him above all other saints. That would be a sin against the Holy Spirit. What it means is that there are degrees of holiness. While all the saints are holy, this particular saint enjoys the Church’s respect as being the Mirror of Perfection. When the Church gives someone that kind of honor, it is reasonable to expect all Catholics to fall in line with the popes and give that saint the same honor and the same attention to his teachings as do the popes.

In Francis’ case, his teachings were sealed by a Papal Bull by Pope Honorius. This means that they cannot be changed or ignored, because even though they are the words of Francis, not of the pope, they enjoy the backing of papal authority. Remember, we’re referring here to the oridinary authority of the Church when we say papal authority.

That being said, the Church demands that even ordinary papal authority be observed by all Catholics. The Holy See does not take kindly to having its ordinary authority questioned or disagreed with. So when the Church gives the teachings of a saint its backing, it expects the assent of all the faithful.

The point, when it comes to the saints, is that even if they are not infallible, we must give assent when the Church gives assent to their teachings and her approval through a Papal Bull or an encyclical. In Francis’ case his teachings have received approval through both. The same has happened with all of the Doctors and all the founders of the major religious orders of men. All of the founders of the major religious orders of men enjoy the privilege of ordinary authority, not only over their religious orders, but also the laity in this sense. What they teach to their religious is found by the Church to be applicable and without doctrinal error so that it can be taught to the laity and the laity should give assent. Also, the founders of the major religious orders of men and their successors are also Ordinaries, just like a bishop, even if they were not priests, such as Brother Francis. An Ordinary enjoys certain authority and commands certain obedience and respect. The term Ordinary means that he is participates the Church’s “normal” authority. Please forgive my use of the word “normal”. I couldn’t find a better one.

It’s not an issue of one following along with what is wrong like a doormat. It is an issue of showing reverence and respect for the teachings of someone whom the Church acknowledges to have something to teach us and whose teachings the Church recognizes to be in accord with her faith and free of error. Therefore, we cannot say that the teachings of these men and women are ridiculous, when the Church says that they are authoritative and puts Papal Bulls on their writings and confirms their teachings in encyclicals.

I believe the mistake that you made was calling Francis’ teaching “ridiculous”, especially without reading the decree that he wrote. The statement was made at the Chapter of Mats when he handed these decrees to the brothers and the laity who were there. Those decrees were confirme by the Pope as having been revealed to Francis by Jesus himself.

I hope this helps.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I agree. Also, you know, if you have friends that you don’t see often, it’s one way to keep in touch, like e-mail, or phone, et ce’tera. For me, I have friends in other countries. I never used instant messaging before, but I started using it recently. Instead of running up an expensive phone bill, some of these are cheap alternatives.

Exactly. It’s morally neutral. Like a pen, it’s what you write with the pen that counts. Although I sadly agree that a lot of the power of the internet is abused much too frequently.


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