Pope Francis says that the internet is a "gift from God" - but we need to learn how to live offline, too.

The pope, who has proven to be divisive among Catholics for his relatively progressive statements on homosexuality and birth control since acceding to the papacy, issued the statement for the World Day for Social Communications.

Pope Francis said that the internet and mobile communications had created "a sense of the unity of the human family", and said the Internet could have an important role in building a more peaceful world.

"Today we are living in a world which is growing ever “smaller” and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected," he said.

"The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God."

But the pope added that the developments were not all positive.

"The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.

"The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings."

Francis added that there is a risk others could be "left behind" if they did not choose to connect to the digital world.

Describing the internet as "a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope" he said that "in the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts".

"Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ."

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  • We were't expecting to see this yesterday but it got us thinking

  • He's met football bad boy Mario Balotelli

  • Then he high-fived a giant rubber red hand...

  • He likes to wear hats...

  • Pope Francis is driven around in a Ford Focus, yes, a Ford Focus..

  • He's a fan of pink, only kidding, it was a gift...

  • We told you he likes hats, well, this is a fireman's helmet...

  • and he even washed the feet of 12 prisoners at a youth detention centre in Rome, then blessed them...

  • Pope Francis also became the first Pope to pose for a 'selfie'...

  • Then a cheeky little chappie took his skullcap...

  • He sat there freezing for the masses...

  • He does a mean Superman impression..

  • and he also tried his hand at Winston Churchill...

  • plus he doesn't mind a spot of public transport.