Pope urges priests to join the digital revolution

An image of Pope Benedict on a Vatican Web site as displayed on an Apple iPod touch. (CNS photo/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day 2010, unveiled at a Vatican press conference today, encourages priests around the world to take their pastoral ministry online through Web sites, blogs and videos.

The message says the church cannot afford to ignore the possibilities offered by the digital revolution. Our story today reviews the main themes of the pope’s text, and here are some excerpts:

Responding adequately to this challenge amid today’s cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)

In this Year for Priests, the pope focused on how the church’s ordained ministers can turn the Internet and new media into powerful instruments of evangelization.

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. Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ.

Lest the church be seen as encouraging a new media “star system” among its clergy, the pope adds a word of caution.

Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “Web”.

The pope recognized that digital media will inevitably take priests beyond the church’s own boundaries, requiring a sensitive approach.

A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute.

The main goal of the church’s digital presence should be to remind modern men and women that God is near, he said.

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).

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5 Responses to Pope urges priests to join the digital revolution

  1. Sandra Donahue says:

    Wonderful idea . . . Catechist Magazine is one of my favorite sites and since I Facebooked them and became a fan, I awake every morning with Scripture of the day to remind me of my faith and what’s important as I begin a brand new, glorious day.

  2. Jim Finfera says:

    Our pope’s message is an encouragement to all his priest to leverage all forms of media to include the most modern new forms to spread the Gospel message. This is true and pure Catholic Action. However not just the Church’s priests but all we Catholics need to take notice and act on this good and faithful servant of God message, especially those of us who are retired. We are to be the Light of Christ reflecting Jesus in ourselves. All of us need to thank our Holy Father for encouraging our priests to spread the Gospel message by the most popular and modern means available. Let’s all of us (priest and laity) promise our beloved pope to leverage the web in spreading the gospel. Our Catholic faith is such a great gift to all of human kind and as an expression of our gratitude we need to put it high up on the pedestal of the Internet for all to see it. By the grace of God, we need, in our hearts of hearts, to promise our Pope, to continue to do this and encourage others to do this till the day we die and meet our God and His family of angles and saints as a citizen of Heaven.

  3. While I agree with the Pope that clergy and religious should be using the digital means of communications.

    I think that this is an area where it is important to remember the apostolate of the laity, that is, evangelization is the duty of every follower of Christ – not just the clergy. Each Christian must be that light on the mountaintop shining the Good News of salvation out into the world and this especially includes the digital world.

  4. Joel says:

    Extending the priests pastoral ministry online could reach many people especially the young generation.

    I agree with it.

  5. This statement was very welcome and should be embraced by all Christian denominations. As more of our lives migrate online it is important that we ‘let out light shine’ in the virtual space as well.

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