More “new media” in the Catholic community

Speaking of “new media,” the editor of The Catholic Key in Kansas City, Mo., Jack Smith, has a new post on the paper’s blog titled “Facebook Bishops” about bishops who either have sites on the popular social network or have fan clubs set up by other Facebook members.

He notes that his two local prelates, Bishop Robert W. Finn of K.C.-St. Joe, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., have fan clubs on Facebook. He also points out that a whole lot of bishops may not even know they have their own Facebook fan clubs. (I discovered while putting together this post that there’s a relatively new “Goodbye Archbishop Burke” fan club established after the St. Louis prelate was appointed to a high Vatican position in June, and I also saw a fan club for Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta. I also remember seeing a fan club for Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston when he was elevated to the College of Cardinals last November.)

I suppose it would be appropriate now to shamelessly plug the Catholic News Service Facebook page established last year. We’re planning on beefing it up in the coming months — right now it only has a couple RSS feeds from CNS.

Also on the new media front, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., now has a podcast version of a letter he sent last week to the Bush administration and members of Congress on the economic crisis besetting the nation this fall. (Bishop Murphy is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.) In the podcast he explains why the bishops get involved in such issues and reads the letter sent to the White House and to Capitol Hill. His is one of several dioceses and other Catholic agencies posting material to iTunes, the popular site for iPod owners to download a wide variety of paid and free content for listening or viewing.

And since we’re talking here about Facebook and the bishops, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind readers that the bishops are using Facebook and other tools to promote their “Faithful Citizenship” election guide.

A little grim humor amid the bad financial news

In conducting round after round of interviews over the past few weeks on financial matters great and small, a bit of morbid humor has crept up from time to time, most of it having to do with allusions to the 1929 stock market crash and tales of despairing people who were wiped out jumping out of windows.

In a phone interview, Oblate Father Seamus Finn, a member of the board of the New York-based Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, spelled out some grim possibilities about the current financial crisis. At the end of the interview, I somewhat cheekily advised him not to jump out of any windows. Don’t worry, he told me, “before I jump I’ll call you back so you can send a photographer over to take pictures.”

And Chad Horning of Mennonite Mutual Aid took note of the fact that in that outfit’s home base of Goshen, Ind., the tallest building is but four stories high. “Our building’s only two stories,” he offered. “We might sprain an ankle on the way down.”

In all seriousness, Father Finn told me that the No. 1 criterion for resolving the financial crisis “has to be the people who are most at the periphery of the financial system and failing the most.”

The synod and images from The Saint John’s Bible

VATICAN CITY — The world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, which starts with Mass Sunday, will involve some 400 people, if you count members, experts, observers and support staff.

And each one of them, on several occasions, will be praying with the help of images coming from Minnesota.

CNS photo from St. John's University 2004

Seven vertical slices represent the days of creation in this illustration from The Saint John's Bible. (CNS photo from St. John's University, 2004)

Art from The Saint John’s Bible, a newly hand-copied and hand-illuminated version of the Scriptures, was chosen to adorn the separate booklets for the Masses and prayer services that will be celebrated during the Oct. 5-26 synod.

In addition, a portion of the Bible and six illustrations from it will be on display in the atrium of the Vatican’s synod hall for the next three weeks.

The Bible was commissioned by the Benedictine monks of St. John’s Abbey and by St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. The project began in 1996 and is expected to be completed in 2010 when it should total more than 1,000 parchment pages.

New media in Phoenix

Our friends at The Catholic Sun in Phoenix continue to do great things with “new media.” The latest example is on the Sun’s home page this week with a video presentation for Respect Life Sunday by the bishop of Phoenix, available through YouTube. In fact, the paper has its own YouTube channel. How do I know this? Because a blurb about the bishop’s message came to me yesterday via The Catholic Sun’s Twitter feed.

Are any other Catholic papers doing this much? Please comment below.