Update: How embarrasing. I posted the following blog this morning after reading THE WRONG WDC MESSAGE!!! I read the 2009 message rather than the new 2010 message. (Thought it sounded familiar…). What to do? Do I scrap the post? or leave it up? Oh, to hell with it. I will leave it up and go read this year’s message. I’ll then put a short “update” on the bottom of this post. Back soon…
Well, here is an shot-in-the-arm for Catholic bloggers, make no mistake! None other than Pope Benedict himself has given approval and encouragement to the use of the internet for the promotion of a “culture of respect, dialogue and friendship” in his Message for World Communications Day:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this “digital continent”. Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the “Good News” of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing.
I guess that even we 43-year-olds may be counted as “young people” when the phrase is used by an 82-year-old!
The Holy Father also lays down a few ground rules for Catholic bloggers as they follow this apostolate described above. He gives five main directives:
1) Strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person.
2) use honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening.
3) The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance.
4) be careful never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship, for instance if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation.
5) strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all.
That last one is perhaps more for the IT and economics experts than for us lowly bloggers, but it is indeedn an ideal.
Friendship, dialogue and respect. What’s the Latin for that? It would be a good motto for any Catholic blog.
UPDATE: Okay, I’ve read this year’s Message now. Basically, it’s the same message as last year (which is probably why I didn’t realise I was reading an old one), but this year specifically directed to priests, as befits a message given during “The Year of the Priest”.
The Holy Father sas that
priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace. 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.
Righto. Explicit mention of blogs there. I wonder if that includes religious priests and seminarians, because I know a number of young bloggers who have been told to shut their blogs when they enter into a novitiate or seminary. The Holy Father at least seems to envisage this:
Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord.