Pope Calls His Priests to the Internet
Pope Benedict has called his pastors to actively use the new communications media to preach the gospel.
'Who better than a priest, as a man of God....can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today’s world'
Using the Feast of the Patron Saint for writers and journalists, the Holy Father has called his pastors to become “leaders of communities” online in the new digital marketplace.
“Who better than a priest, as a man of God,” the Pope said, “can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today’s world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future?”
Pope Benedict has long recognized the importance of technology. For World Communication Day in 2008, he wrote, “We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate “self-promotion” or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences.
“Should it not be a priority to ensure that they remain at the service of the person and of the common good, and that they foster ‘man’s ethical formation … man’s inner growth’?
“Their extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and on society is widely acknowledged, yet today it is necessary to stress the radical shift, one might even say the complete change of role, that they are currently undergoing.”
This year’s message underscored the understanding that today’s marketplace in found on the World Wide Web. Just as his pastors have been called to walk the streets of God’s cities, they are now being deployed to the virtual communities of the Internet.
The Pope stated, “Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.’ (Rev 3:20).
This call may be received by some pastors with a sense of horror. Many have seen avoidance of social media and technology as a badge of honor. “I believe moderation is still the key for people – especially our youth – when it comes to involvement with technology,” one pastor stated. “I believe God has called us to use this medium, however, as a tool for evangelism.”
The Pontiff’s message underscored this perspective. “Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”
In the 1960’s communications theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote a book entitled “The Medium is Massage.” While the title was originally a typo for the word “Message,” McLuhan kept it, proclaiming that this captured the essence of communication.
McLuhan saw all media as an extension of the human person. ‘The medium is the message,” McLuhan wrote, because it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”
The Holy Father’s call for a pastoral presence in the digital world captures this same conviction. “To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications.
“May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new ‘agorà’ (Ed: “place of assembly) which the current media are opening up.”
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in 2006.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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