Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By

11/18/2010 (4 years ago)

Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

Call Not for New Teachings, But New Delivery

'We digital immigrants need lessons on the digital culture, just as we expect missionaries to learn the cultures of the people they are evangelizing," Bishop Herzog affirmed. "We have to be enculturated. It's more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It's learning how to think, live and embrace life on the digital continent.'

Highlights

By

Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

11/18/2010 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: internet, evangelization, missionary, internet, digital continent


BALTIMORE, Maryland (Zenit.org) - The world of social media might seem like a fad, but it's not going away. In fact, it's a "digital continent," with natives, immigrants -- and in need of missionaries.

This was the reflection offered Monday, the first day of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fall general assembly, by Bishop Ron Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana.

"I often hear people, both in my work and in my circle of friends, who dismiss social media as frivolous and shallow. Who can blame them? [...] The very words used by the practitioners seem to beg for ridicule," the bishop said. "Their light-hearted twisting of the language suggests that these are the latest fad in a culture that picks up and drops fads quicker than the time it takes me to figure out my cell phone bill. I am here today to suggest that you should not allow yourselves to be fooled by its appearance. Social media is proving itself to be a force with which to be reckoned. If not, the Church may be facing as great a challenge as that of the Protestant Reformation."

Bishop Herzog admitted such an affirmation could sound like exaggeration, but he offered some statistics as proof: "There are more than 500 million active users on Facebook. If it were a nation, only India and China would have more citizens. The American Red Cross reported that it raised more than $5 million dollars, $10 at a time, through a text messaging service. One out of eight married couples in the United States say they met through social media. It took 13 years for television to reach 50 million users. After the iPod was introduced, it took only nine months for 1 billion applications to be downloaded."

The Louisiana prelate noted that Benedict XVI calls social media a digital continent, "with natives, immigrants, and even missionaries. He encourages Catholics, especially our priests, to approach this culture of 140 characters and virtual friendships as a great opportunity for evangelization."

"The opportunities can be incredible," the bishop proposed, pointing simply to the number of participants involved in the social media. "Let me give you one example. The USCCB started a community on Facebook last August. There are now 25,000 'fans' associated with that community. [...] Furthermore, if those 25,000 are like the average profile of a Facebook user, they have 130 friends, or contacts, on Facebook. With one click they can share the information they receive from USCCB. If only 10% of the USCCB fans share what they receive from USCCB, we are reaching 325,000 people. Multiple times a day. All it costs us is staff time."
As big as the printing press

Bishop Herzog suggested that social media -- though it's been around for less than 10 years -- "doesn't have the makings of a fad."

"We're being told that it is causing as fundamental a shift in communication patterns and behavior as the printing press did 500 years ago," he said. "And I don't think I have to remind you of what happened when the Catholic Church was slow to adapt to that new technology. By the time we decided to seriously promote that common folk should read the Bible, the Protestant Reformation was well under way."

In fact, the bishop declared, "social media is creating a new culture on this digital continent."

He noted that youth use it as their first point of reference. "The news, entertainment, their friends -- are all coming to them through their mobile devices and through their social networks. The implications of that for a church which is struggling to get those same young people to enter our churches on Sunday are staggering. If the church is not on their mobile device, it doesn't exist. The Church does not have to change its teachings to reach young people, but we must deliver it to them in a new way."

Obstacles

Bishop Herzog admitted there are obstacles to overcome when the Church attempts to evangelize the digital continent.

He observed: "One of the greatest challenges of this culture to the Catholic Church is its egalitarianism. Anyone can create a blog; everyone's opinion is valid. And if a question or contradiction is posted, the digital natives expect a response and something resembling a conversation. We can choose not to enter into that cultural mindset, but we do so at great peril to the Church's credibility and approachability in the minds of the natives, those who are growing up in this new culture. This is a new form of pastoral ministry. It may not be the platform we were seeking, but it is an opportunity of such magnitude that we should consider carefully the consequences of disregarding it."

Nevertheless, the prelate reflected, the Church cannot abandon traditional forms of communication to invest in new media. Older generations still use newspapers and books, he noted, and financial donors still rely on those means. The Church needs to invest in both, he stated.

Finally, the prelate urged his brother bishops to "accept the fact that your staffs -- and perhaps you as well -- will need training and direction."

"On the digital continent," he said, "'if you build it, they will come' does not hold true. It takes careful strategizing and planning to make social media an effective and efficient communication tool, not only for your communications department, but for all of the church's ministries."

"We digital immigrants need lessons on the digital culture, just as we expect missionaries to learn the cultures of the people they are evangelizing," Bishop Herzog affirmed. "We have to be enculturated. It's more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It's learning how to think, live and embrace life on the digital continent."



Comments


More Living Faith

Take the Catholic Online Thanksgiving Challenge! Watch

Image of Reaching out to others is precisely the way to show that we are thankful for what we have.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday filled with family and food, often spent on televised parades and football, and naps after lunch. Kids play in the yard or the streets as everybody generally has a good time. However, this is not the case for millions of ... continue reading


Pope says he's willing to speak to Islamic State - says nations are likewise guilty of 'terrorism' Watch

Image of After addressing the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis also told journalists that the threat of terrorism was not the only horror weighing on the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asked about the possibilities of discussion with Islamic State, Pope Francis said, "I never count anything as lost. Never. Never close the door. It's difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open." The Pontiff went forward to say that ... continue reading


Unborn, terminally ill and elderly are treated as objects in Europe, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of If we uphold the dignity of the person we are acknowledging the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Despite talk of human rights, too many people are treated as objects in Europe: unborn, terminally ill, and the elderly," Pope Francis said. Speaking at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, the pontiff said that "We're too tempted to throwaway lives we ... continue reading


Church recognizes six new saints as Pope Francis canonizes in Sunday ceremony, speaking about how we too shall be judged Watch

Image of Indian well-wishers gather at the Vatican for the Canonization ceremony.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, praising their lives as "extraordinary" and reminding us all that we will be judged by how we treat others. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis recognized six new saints on Sunday, ... continue reading


Pope says church must extend help to immigrants, 'so that all may be treated as children of God' Watch

Image of The world must now recognize the advantages of migration. Host countries get new workers to meet production needs,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the Pope says that the Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders." He says that the church must welcome and assist all of God's children, ... continue reading


Feast of Christ the King and Advent: What Does it Mean? Watch

Image of The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members. As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6,7) Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Liturgical Church year offers to each of us consider the creature which is called time, receive it as a gift and begin to really live differently. Yet, for ... continue reading


Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 22:1-7
1 Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7
1 Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh, acclaim ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:34-36
34 'Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 29th, 2014 Image

St. Saturninus
November 29: St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr November 29 A.D. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter