Tech Talk: Will the Vatican monitor Catholic websites?

Tech Talk with Lisa Hendey/Son Rise Morning Show (

On a recent episode of the Son Rise Morning Show, we discussed a proposal by the Vatican to police “Catholic” websites.

In the days following the end of the Synod of Bishops, this proposal has been one of the stories making the news. Some have called this “censorship.” How did this topic arise?
  • The final document of the Synod of Bishops included a paragraph on this topic and the news immediately spread across twitter via numerous sources who tweet and blog on Catholic issues. (jump to the full paragraph on this topic)
  • The document acknowledges the challenges of today’s digital culture, but also recognizes that young people today are digital natives and that the Church must be present in these places online because young people find an authentic mission online.
What does the Final Document of the Synod of Bishops have to say about “mission in the digital environment”?
  • The document actually calls for a few proposals:
    • Establishment of offices or bodies for digital culture and evangelization at “appropriate levels”
    • These offices would promote the exchange and dissemination of good practices at a personal and community level
    • They would develop tools for digital education and evangelization
    • These offices could also manage certification systems for Catholic sites to counter the spread of fake news about the Church
The controversial part of this seems to be the idea to create a structure to avoid the dissemination of “fake news” about the Church. Is this possible, and what might this structure look like?
  • Catholic news sites have been asking themselves this question
  • Pope Francis used the theme “The truth will set you free. Fake news and journalism for peace” for his 2018 World Communications Day message
  • Certification of websites might look similar to a nihil obstat for a book or a “letter of Good Standing” offered by a Bishop to a Catholic speaker
As people of faith, what steps can and should we be taking to responsibly locate and share authentic news about the Catholic Church?
  • Pray daily for the wisdom and intercession of the Holy Spirit in our usage of digital technology
  • Consider the source, especially before sharing anything controversial or inflammatory
  • Look to local news sources such as your parish and diocesan communications
As we celebrate All Saints Day, any quick suggestions of great tech resources to learn about the saints?
  • Great resources at
  • Alexa “Saint of the Day” from Franciscan Media
  • Saint apps on iOS or google play – check reviews before installing

The paragraph about online oversight in the Synod’s final document

Source: Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on Youth, Faith and Vocation Discernment (October 27, 2018)
The Synod hopes that in the Church appropriate offices or bodies for digital culture and evangelization are established at appropriate levels, which, with the indispensable contribution of young people, promote ecclesial action and reflection in this environment. Among their functions, in addition to promoting the exchange and dissemination of good practices at a personal and community level, and to develop adequate tools for digital education and evangelization, could also manage certification systems of Catholic sites, to counter the spread of  fake news  regarding the Church, or looking for ways to persuade public authorities to promote increasingly stringent policies and tools for the protection of minors on the web.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2018 Lisa Hendey


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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