PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS
World Summit on the Information
INTERVENTION BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN P. FOLEY
Modern information and communications technologies (ICTs), of which the Internet is certainly the most evident expression, are now having and will continue to have a profound impact on the economic, social and cultural life of the human family.
This Summit is a unique opportunity on how to direct the "information society" toward a constructive development, and on how to avoid taking the wrong steps. What we are considering are not only "digital opportunities", but also "digital dilemmas".
This process gives us the opportunity to connect and assist those living in the poorest and most isolated regions of the world and to offer a voice to those who in the past have often been unheard and forgotten.
On the contrary, if this process creates only new opportunities for those who already enjoy a good living standard and excellent communications possibilities, then our work will have been a failure.
The challenge of narrowing or even closing the so-called "digital divide", the current disparity in the access to digital communications between developed and developing countries, requires the joint effort of the entire international community.
More developed countries should assume the responsibility of helping less developed nations to speed the process of computerization and access to new communications media through financial support, transfer of information technologies, commercial measures and cultural cooperation.
Today, much commercial activity and even interpersonal communication take place in an environment which many call virtual or cyberspace.
This new space, however, is very real indeed, and it is most important that there will not be space in it, in so far as is possible, for the tragic divisions and discrimination, the selfishness, the prejudices and the injustices that have soiled so much of human history. Such things should be remembered only to prevent their recurrence.
We are told that those who launched the World Wide Web did not seek to profit financially from its development. It is also interesting to note that an Internet that had originally been invented as an instrument of communication in war has now become a far-reaching instrument of development and of peace.
In the last major Document which he published, "Rapid Development", Pope John Paul II noted:
It is our responsibility to fill these gaps of humanity and solidarity for the benefit of millions of people and for the next generation.