“What does the Church have to say about privacy?” I was asked this week, in the aftermath of Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings. That’s a good question – I haven’t seen a lot in church documents, nor much from theologians. (I’d love to hear from readers if they’ve seen some good theological discussion…)
Privacy is (obviously) an important question in a digital age, and I think the Church ought to get a lot bolder about speaking to privacy. I can envision developing arguments along the lines of creation and identity as people being made in the image of God. From there, I’d probably develop something analogous between privacy and some of the Church’s discussion of why private property is important – including a connection to the Common Good.
What I have noticed is Pope Francis’ call in the last couple World Communications Day messages for Christians to be truthful online and offline, in all our communication. In an age of fake news, fake prayer, and fake identities, that’s a crucial part of our witness. Of course, truthfulness is connected to privacy and identity in at least one sense: I contribute to my baptismal vocation by being fully me, made in the image of God. If others have taken or misused my identity, I may have a tougher, if not impossible time of it.
I talk about this more in this interview here – but I’d love to know what readers are thinking about this!