Pope to priests: Embrace new media

An interesting article in Monday’s News-Sentinel, via the AP, highlights the Pope’s embracing of new media.

Pope to priests: Embrace new media
Use digital means to spread Gospel, Benedict urges.

By Ariel David
of The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has a new commandment for priests struggling to get their message across: Go forth and blog.

The pope, whose own presence on the Web has heavily grown in recent years, urged priests on Saturday to use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and engage in dialogue with people of other religions and cultures.

And just using e-mail or surfing the Web is often not enough: Priests should use cutting-edge technologies to express themselves and lead their communities, Benedict said in a message released by the Vatican.

[…] In Saturday’s message — titled “The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word” — Benedict urged special care in contacts with other cultures and beliefs.

A presence on the Web, “precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, nonbelievers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute,” he said.

Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, who heads the Vatican’s social communications office, said that Benedict’s words aimed to encourage reflection in the church on the positive uses of new media.

“That doesn’t mean that (every priest) must open a blog or a Web site. It means that the church and the faithful must engage in this ministry in a digital world,” Celli told reporters. “At some point, a balance will be found.”

I had some disappointing experiences at the end of December and earlier this month with the local Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.  After  speaking personally with then Bishop John D’Arcy who encouraged me to call him to arrange an interview back in December, several phone calls to his secretary were ignored.  Shortly before the Bishop Kevin Rhoades installation, I tried to contact the Diocese to learn about media arrangements.  Those contacted included the Director of Catholic Communications for the Diocese – again all voice mail messages – and e-mails – were ignored.  I was still able to attend the installation and took photos for a local print publication.  The problem is that I wasn’t sure which moments were off limits to flash photography or were too sacred to be captured, thus I didn’t take many photos of the service itself.  An email had been sent to the media before the service, however, my editor did not remember to forward it to me, thus leaving me in the dark.

I don’t take it personally – it’s the nature of the beast of blogging.  While some organizations are quick to embrace bloggers and what we do, others are resistant and often outright hostile – although that later part is not true of the local Diocese – they simply didn’t respond period.  Although not Catholic myself, the Catholic Church has always been a source of fascination and intrigue for me.  The installation was an opportunity that wasn’t fully capitalized on, but hopefully, there will be other opportunities in the future to interact with the Diocese.


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