Pope Benedict XVI is boldly making use of new technologies of communications to spread the Gospel message. In his discourse for World Communications Day, the Holy Father teaches that the digital use of modern technologies such as the World Wide Web, internet blogs and other electronic tools are an essential part of the priest’s resources in spreading the message of the Catholic Church. One should really not be too shocked about the Catholic Church’s use of technology as a method for evangelization. Most of the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries that enabled mass communications were adopted by the Catholic Church in it educational and evangelical activities from their inception.
In 1886 the Vatican had ten telephones and used them to communicate inside the complex array of Vatican offices. In 1929 after the Lateran Pact, the Vatican initiated telephone service with the help of contributions from the United States inside the newly independent Vatican City State and the rest of the world.
Vatican Radio was initiated in 1931. The radio station was designed and built under the direction of Guillermo Marconi, the Father of Radio.
The Vatican experimented with television broadcasting in the early 1930’s and in the 1990’s developed the Vatican Television Center.
So the inclusion of the internet as a tool for the Church really comes as no surprise. The Vatican has its own website already and posts just about everything from papal events, to encyclicals, daily press releases and other news. In addition to English the website is maintained in other modern languages, including Latin for the Church purist.
Pope Benedict XVI was keen to utilize the “texting” medium during his visit to the United States a few years ago. News of his arrival was spread to millions of Catholics worldwide by the use of cellular telecommunications. The Pope also has his own email address, to which Catholics can send him birthday wishes, prayers and other commentaries on his pontificate.
In the United States, many Cardinals and Bishops have taken to, “blogging!” to the faithful of their dioceses. The Cardinal Archbishop of Boston has a blog called, “Cardinal Sean’s Blog!” Archbishop Dolan of New York blogs on a regular basis through the Archdiocese of New York’s website and finally Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia has his own Facebook fan page that is updated by the Office of Communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cardinal Rigali also hosts a weekly radio show that is podcasted on the internet as well.
The increased call to utilize modern means of communications by Pope Benedict XVI is a welcome invitation from the Pope to spread Christ’s Word on many levels. It shows very clearly that the Church is not only aware of the world’s developments in science and technology, but actually embraces these developments in its ministry.
Perhaps in the near future our local parishes will increasingly embrace the use of digital technologies that go well beyond publishing the parish bulletin online for parishioners to read. Imagine the possibilities, those home bound due to age and infirmity might be able to watch the parish’s Sunday Mass via the Internet and once again become part of the local parish community. Homily’s and liturgical celebrations could be electronically stored and transmitted for educational and evangelization purposes. The potential is really quite unlimited and extensive. The entire manner in which we provide religious instruction and educational courses could be accomplished by video and audio conferences. The limitations often caused by distance and time constraints could be bridged by holding parish meetings online and in real time web collaborations.
The Church is indeed on the threshold of a new age of global communications. While the technologies are not intended to replace or diminish the interpersonal interactions of a parish community gathered together in the celebration of the Eucharist, they will enhance the proclamation and celebration of our sacred rituals through digital participation by those hindered from being physically present in Church.
Most importantly, the notion that people are the, “living stones, ” on which the Church is built will be reaffirmed and restored as emerging technologies of communications will permit countless numbers of people seeking to worship Jesus Christ have the opportunity to know him through 21st century methods of the proclamation of the Word of God.
Bishops, priests and faithful Catholics…blog on…it spreads our faith and builds up the Body of Christ…digitally!
Copyright 2010 Hugh J.McNichol