While calling on the Church to listen to the youth, Pope Francis clarified that social media can provide independent information and a means of dialogue.
The Holy Father said in his apostolic exhortation Christus vivit published on Tuesday that social networks are a valuable means of providing not only undoctored facts but a useful forum for communication with the youth.
"The web and social networks have created a new way to communicate and bond," wrote Francis, calling such digital forums "a public square" where the youth meet and discuss their issues.
He noted that the web is a source of independent information and a way of upholding peoples' rights.
They provide an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue, encounter and exchange between persons, as well as access to information and knowledge. Moreover, the digital world is one of social and political engagement and active citizenship, and it can facilitate the circulation of independent information providing effective protection for the most vulnerable and publicizing violations of their rights.
The Pope used the apostolic exhortation to once again call the Church to change Her ways, especially in the area of listening to the youth.
"To be credible to young people, there are times when she needs to regain her humility and simply listen," wrote Francis.
But he also acknowledged that the internet provides a valuable means of dialoguing with the youth.
"In many countries, the internet and social networks already represent a firmly established forum for reaching and involving young people, not least in pastoral initiatives and activities," admitted the Pope.
He warned that "economic interests" are set on manipulating the flow of information on the internet and interrupting the free exchange of ideas.
"It should not be forgotten," wrote Francis, "that 'there are huge economic interests operating in the digital world, capable of exercising forms of control as subtle as they are invasive, creating mechanisms for the manipulation of consciences and of the democratic process.'"
Watch the panel discuss the Pope's follow-up to October's Youth Synod in The Download—A Changing Church?