VATICAN CITY — When it comes to WWJD, Jesus would have been a natural for Twitter and TV, according to an Italian cardinal.
When Christ communicated, “he was already using television and tweets” — meaning his millennia-old style is perfectly ready and relevant for today’s media, said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
For example, “His Sermon on the Mount. It’s a series of discourses Jesus gave at different times: 35 parables. What is that, if not television” in the genre of a TV series, he told the Italian daily, La Repubblica, today.
“Or else the Prodigal Son: who took off, ate among swine, frequented prostitutes and then returns. It reads like a screenplay,” he said.
And Jesus’ sayings and teachings are especially apt for Twitter’s brief bursts, he said.
Just look at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee when he says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” which is well-under Twitter’s cut-off of 140 characters.
The church, which is “straggling” in this new arena, “cannot stay away” from engaging with others through newer forms of communication. Otherwise “you’re either living in a catacomb or on another planet,” said the cardinal, whose Twitter handle is @CardRavasi_en.
He praised Pope Francis’ use of symbols (i.e. “smell of sheep”), calling them a convincing and “critical component of language.” And he said he loved the way Pope Benedict XVI boldly engaged just recently with an Italian mathematician over the truth and reason in faith.
The retired pope’s frankness in his letter to Odifreddi “is a lesson” to all priests to not be afraid to jump into “the public square, in the snarl of today’s communication,” he said.
Dialogue requires hard truths, and not trying to operate like the United Nations where people need to find agreement, Cardinal Ravasi said.
“There can be a bitter and intense debate, too, in the recognition of diversity,” otherwise tip-toeing around the issues risks turning dialogue into a mere formality or something superficial.