The Gospel and the Internet
October 24th, 2010
If you’re a Catholic worker and your role requires you to communicate, how do you feel about new media? Do you blog, Tweet or use Facebook? Do you publish videos on YouTube? If so, to what end? If not, why not?
We invite you to share your experiences in using -- or not using -- new media in Catholic ministry. Write us a letter. Or, if you’re a Facebook user, make a comment in the "Gospel and the Internet" discussion board on Catholic San Francisco’s Facebook page. For those who use Twitter, send us a direct message on twitter.com/catholic_sf or pass along to your followers our tweet containing a link to this editorial.
The new media have grown to the point where it’s no longer possible for Catholics to ignore them. Our policy here at the archdiocesan paper is simple: no technology should be feared if it contributes to the mission, and none should be embraced if it does not.
For Catholic diocesan media, print or digital, the mission is universally and always the same: to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, to document the power of the Holy Spirit in the here and now and to complement the other resources of the bishops to extend to all the invitation to the Eucharistic feast.
The test, in a word, is presence. Presence is uncomplicated with the printed word, which allows the sender and receiver of a message to share a physical, embodied reality in the form of newsprint. But with new media, Catholics are confronted with rootless, disembodied, fleeting and superficial means and are challenged to find ways to use them to bring about the presence of Christ in spite of the limitations and risks.
The Son of God, the Word incarnate, was handed down through the Bible -- and the word remains the essential instrument of communication even in today’s image-driven society, Pope Benedict XVI told an international Church media congregation in Rome Oct. 7.
But the Word must flourish in the virtual world as well, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told the Mideast bishops’ synod at the Vatican Oct. 14.
He called for broad-based discipleship among clergy and laity so that technology may hold no barriers to spreading the Good News.
“It is not sufficient to build websites,” he said. “What is needed is a presence that is able to create authentic means of communication, that opens 'places' where people can gather to bear witness to their faith and to their respect for others. Obviously this does not mean ignoring personal encounter and physical community life. These are not alternative actions: they are both indispensable for extending God's kingdom.”
From October 29, 2010 issue of Catholic San Francisco.