In a recent official message, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Catholic priests to utilize multimedia outlets such as blogging and Youtube as potential outlets for their ministries. Seminaries should become, in addition to many other things, centers where young priests are trained in the use of new technologies, Benedict admonished, so long as this usage reflects Catholic principles. Though exhibiting some ambivalence toward media—having emphasized its tendency to trivialize immorality and desensitize audiences to violent content—the Pope has also referred to new media developments as “gifts to humanity” that can be used to spread the good news. By correctly utilizing it, priests can “help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord’s presence,” stated the Pope. “In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different ‘highways’ that form ‘cyberspace,’ and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own.”
Though Pope Benedict has not yet indicated whether he himself will be blogging, there has been some speculation on the airwaves that he may do so. In case he chooses to do so, some experienced bloggers have offered their advice. Author James Martin (who, by the way, thinks blogging is just what Jesus would do), for example, recently told NPR that he thinks the Pope should only allow comments “if he has a thick skin.” Another blogger warned that publishing content on the Internet “is exactly the same thing as losing total control of your message.” Pope Benedict seems to be quite aware of some of the challenges priests might encounter, however, and admonished them to be sensitive when in contact with non-believers and followers of other religions. Overall, the Pope is very optimistic of the potential such media presents and invoked his blessing on the virtual ministries of his followers: “May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new ‘agorà’ which the current media are opening up.” See story here and here.
From Exotics to Brainwashers: Portraying New Religions in Mass Media
By Sean McCloud, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
(Vol. 1, August 2006)
Church–State Relations in Europe
By Russell Sandberg and Norman Doe , Cardiff University
(Vol. 2, September 2007)