BUCHAREST, Ro. – Speaking before an enthusiastic congregation during his first papal trip to Romania on Sunday, Pope Francis addressed what has become a particularly hot-button issue for Christians of all denominations: prayer in the age of social media.
“God encourages us to embrace all forms of communication,” Pope Francis declared during his homily at a newly consecrated church in the Transylvanian city of Blaj. The pope likened the use of prayer through social media to “an encounter in the flesh that comes alive through the body, heart, eyes, gaze, [and] breath of the other,” and encouraged Christians to share stories of beauty and suffering in an effort to “seek out the good so that we may rediscover what unites us.”
In the case of individual prayer, Pope Francis acknowledged that God can, in fact, see prayers published on social media. However, Christian social media users must adhere to a strict set of guidelines set in place by the Catholic Church. “Capitalization and the use of proper grammar are a matter of utmost importance in the eyes of the Lord,” Pope Francis explained, adding that any mention of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit must be capitalized in order for the post to become visible to the Lord.
Further, the pope urged Christians of all denominations to “immediately and unequivocally” disable the privacy settings on their social media accounts. Referencing Isaiah 59:3, which reads, “… your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear,” Pope Francis warned that “failure to fully disable our privacy settings creates a barrier of sin between us and the Lord.”
The pope’s remarks, which were timed to coincide with the 53rd World Day of Social Communications, come as a relief for many in the Christian faith who worry their prayers on social media often go unanswered. In closing, Pope Francis advised Catholics and Christians alike to end every social media post -prayer or otherwise- with “Amen,” saying, “All endeavors in life are prayers to our Creator.”