Thursday, January 21, 2010


Accredited journalists are informed that Saturday, 23 January 2010 at 11:30, in the John Paul II hall of the Holy See’s Press Office, a press conference will take place for the presentation of the “Message of the Holy Father for the 44th World Day for Social Communications” (16 May 2010) with the title: “The priesthood and pastoral ministry in the digital world: the new media in service of the Word.”

This is my translation of a news item currently on the Holy See’s web-site, and beyond the fact of the content, its being found on a Vatican web-site at all is itself an important statement. This web-site, by the way ( has been up and running for a number of years, and it is extremely informative and updated daily. [If you don’t know how to find a web-site or a blog, just ask your 3rd grade son or daughter!]

The Vatican is taking very seriously the possibilities of using the digital world as a means of advancing the “new evangelization.” Its web-site includes, beyond facts and figures, wonderful tours of some of the most important churches and sites in Rome, including an interactive and extremely well done virtual tour of the Scavi, the excavations underneath St. Peter’s, which were conducted in the 1940s and 1950s and which revealed, besides a 1st-4th century Roman cemetery, which is surely the grave of St. Peter. If you can’t get to Rome for the real thing, take this tour.

There are priests (like myself) and even bishops (like Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York) who have blogs similar to this one; it is a way of attempting to reach people where they are: online. There are priests whose blogs are far more magnificent and noted throughout the country, and on which ongoing dialogue occurs. There are parishes whose web-sites offer streaming audio/video of things like their Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist, enabling parishioners who cannot come to church to feel a part of their parish by means of watching the Mass and listening to the homily.

And of course when things are put “out there,” they invite visiting by people just surfing or browsing, and from that, good things can happen. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of the Holy Father’s statement on Saturday, but it’s hard to think it will be anything but upbeat. Some people are terrified of the digital age, and one reason is their fear (very real) of its use in propagating pornography, or sponsoring chat-rooms in which sexual predators hunt for victims. But the age-old saying, Abusus not tollit usus (freely translated, “The fact a thing is used badly doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing”) is true here: we can embrace all the opportunities we have to place new means “at the service of the Word.”

1 comment:

  1. In winning over parishoners, as only one example, one can be confronted with a problem. Particularly, one of instant gratification. Several contacts have mentioned they just forget to look for the blog; others have difficulty in posting their comments, whether in agreement or disagreement. Reaching out to the general populace may go more smoothly, as the blogger becomes better known. As you say, the younger generation appears enveloped in electronics. But they may need the power of the Holy Spirit to respond to the Catholic themes.